Pharyngula

Get ready to become a christian

Goodbye, everyone: I’m about to destroy your brain. After reading the following, you will all convert to christianity and find no further use for my godless ravings. Sorry, people. When someone tells me not to push the big red button, I just can’t help myself.

This is the first chapter of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

THE LAW OF HUMAN NATURE

Everyone has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. they say things like this: "How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?" – "That’s my seat, I was there first" – "Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm" – "Why should you shove in first?" – "Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine" – "Come on, you promised." People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.

Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behaviour does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behaviour which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: "To hell with your standard." Nearly always he tries to make out that what he was doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man in in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.

Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the "laws of nature" we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong "the Law of Nature," they really meant the law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law – with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obe the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.

We may put this another way. Each man is at every moment subjected to several different sets of law but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to gravitation and cannot disobey it; if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey any more than an animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other things; but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the one he can disobey if he chooses.

This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that everyone knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are colorblind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behaviour was obvious to every one. And I believe they were right. If they were not, then all the things we said about the war were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practised? If they had no notion of what we mean by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the colour of their hair.
I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities.

But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to – whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find him going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining "It’s not fair" before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong – in other words, if there is no Law of Nature – what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?

It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may sometimes be mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table. Now if we are agreed about that, I go on to my next point, which is this. None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature. If there are any exceptions among you, I apologize to them. They had much better read some other work, for nothing I am going to say concerns them. And now turning to the ordinary human beings who are left:

I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say. I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. that time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money – the one you have almost forgotten – came when you were very hard up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done – well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. As as for your behaviour to your wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it – and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much – we feel the Rule or Law pressing on us so – that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.

These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about the universe we live in.

There’s little point in saying anything more, since I imagine that if you’ve gotten this far you’re all off stampeding to the nearest church, or at least you’re on your knees with tears running down your cheeks, praying to your savior. Right?

What? You’re still here?

But I just listened to this ghastly fawning interview with Francis Collins, and he claimed about 11 minutes into it that he used to be an obnoxious atheist, and after reading three pages of Mere Christianity, his “arguments against faith lay in ruins.”

Whoa, I thought, this must be powerful stuff. I read it. You’ve just read it. I’m afraid, though, that the only thing in ruins is Collins’ reputation. What kind of weak-minded, uncritical dink would find anything in that pablum at all persuasive?

The rest of the interview is pretty worthless, too. Collins has finally heard of observations and experiments in non-humans that demonstrate empathy and altruism, but he’s unconvinced by them — he still thinks that humans are somehow special, and is now arguing that altruism in evolution is all about self-interest, and that because sometimes humans do things against their own self-interest, selection (which he equates with evolution) could not have caused them. He’s blatantly panadaptationist.

Oh, and he makes a claim I’ve heard somewhere else before: guess who is to blame for creationism? Not religion, oh no. It’s the fault of the “extreme wing” of the scientific community, those annoying atheists, and creationism is a backlash in response to “atheist voices”. Gah. What an awful nitwit.

If Lewis converted you, give thanks and blessings to the Canadian Cynic, who inflicted this dreadful interview on me. It didn’t seem to work on me, but maybe I’m just too steeped in narrow-minded evil.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    August 26, 2007

    The logic is air-tight, isn’t it? We cannot avoid acknowledgment of the Law of Nature. It’s obvious that we must therefore acknowledge the Lawgiver, because Laws (especially uppercase ones) do not give themselves. Tight! From there I assume it’s just a baby-step to Christianity. Except…

    I read Mere Christianity thirty years ago when I was in college, just before I lapsed completely in religious practice and belief.

    Better check the label for serious side-effects: “May cause unbelief in those who are already full to up here.”

  2. #2 K. Engels
    August 26, 2007

    Indian movies have elaborate dance numbers… Therefore, Hinduism is the one true faith. QED (Well it makes about as much sense and Mere Christianity.)

  3. #3 Stanton
    August 26, 2007

    Mr Lewis should have stuck to writing children’s books, and not philosophy.
    The smushed corpse-smudge of Stensioella heintzi makes more sense than this passage.

  4. #4 Bond, James Bond
    August 26, 2007

    All I know PZ is that when I was in a really bad spot in my life God was there for me. Barring that type of occurrence for you, and seeing that reasoning fails on you, I don’t know if you would ever believe until you pass away and see Him face to face or face to His overwhelming light. And that may be to late for you PZ. I hope it isn’t but the sad fact is that you are taking a huge gamble with your soul.

  5. #5 Unstable Isotope
    August 26, 2007

    This is funny. I just read an article this morning on Mother Theresa. It seems like even she doubted the existence of God. Of course the article says that makes her sound more human. It’s interesting how many people profess belief that they don’t have.

  6. #6 Le Chiffre
    August 26, 2007

    Don’t welch on Pascal’s Wager. I’m going to have to have that check, Mr. Bond…

    James Bond: What are you going to do to me?
    Le Chiffre: Physically, nothing, Mr. Bond.
    James Bond: Ah, so you’re going to nothing me to death.

  7. #7 David Marjanovi?
    August 26, 2007

    ZZZZZ

    ROOOOO

    ZZZROwhat? There was an argument in there? I must have missed it.

    To be fair, though, Collins didn’t say he read the first three pages, did he?

    I hope it isn’t but the sad fact is that you are taking a huge gamble with your soul.

    Ooh, Pascal’s Wager.

    Dude, Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work. Firstly, there are way too many religions to choose from, and their requirements often contradict each other; Pascal’s Wager offers no way whatsoever on how to choose. Secondly, listen to the wise words of Terry Pratchett (from Hogfather):

    The Quirmian philosopher Ventre put forward the suggestion that “Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it’s all true you’ll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn’t then you’ve lost nothing, right?” When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said “We’re going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts…”

    Who is it again on whom reasoning fails?

  8. #8 David Marjanovi?
    August 26, 2007

    ZZZZZ

    ROOOOO

    ZZZROwhat? There was an argument in there? I must have missed it.

    To be fair, though, Collins didn’t say he read the first three pages, did he?

    I hope it isn’t but the sad fact is that you are taking a huge gamble with your soul.

    Ooh, Pascal’s Wager.

    Dude, Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work. Firstly, there are way too many religions to choose from, and their requirements often contradict each other; Pascal’s Wager offers no way whatsoever on how to choose. Secondly, listen to the wise words of Terry Pratchett (from Hogfather):

    The Quirmian philosopher Ventre put forward the suggestion that “Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it’s all true you’ll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn’t then you’ve lost nothing, right?” When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said “We’re going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts…”

    Who is it again on whom reasoning fails?

  9. #9 Jeb, FCD
    August 26, 2007

    Bond, James Bond is our new troll?

    Welcome, Mr. Bond, to our lair. Prepare to have your arguments eviscerated and burnt to a crisp by our sharks with frikkin’ laser beams on their foreheads.

    One real question for you:

    Would you be the person you are today is god hadn’t been there for you during that bad spot in your life?

  10. #10 Kurt Denke
    August 26, 2007

    Funny. I always have thought this was a really good argument for the existence of people.

    I. There seems to be a general sort of agreement about what the broad principles of morality are;
    II. There cannot be an “agreement” without “agree-ers”;
    III. Therefore, the agree-ers (people) exist.

    I see that one as pretty iron-clad. Don’t see what it has to do with Zeus and such-like, though. It never seemed to me that we needed Zeus to exist for us to have the capacity to agree with one another.

    I would point out, too, that even the extreme theists like Lewis do not deny the actual existence of people, even though the existence of people solves the “where does morality come from” problem and thus undermines his whole approach. In fact, the people who deny the existence of people are few and far between. Is there even a word for them? Apopulists?

  11. #11 Steve_C
    August 26, 2007

    He’s jesus’ secret agent.

    WWJD?

    Apparently Jesus drives an Aston Martin.

    I’ll take one Octopussy over Jesus any day.

  12. #12 Susan R.
    August 26, 2007

    ::raises hand:: Mere Christianity did indeed convert me. In fact, it was thanks to Francis Collins–I was interested in biology, and my father took me to hear a talk by him on the Human Genome Project and Christianity. Collins of course mentioned the book, my dad bought it for me, I read it and was convinced.

    This was because I was thirteen years old, and Mere Christianity was the first logical (cough!) argument for religion I had ever encountered in my new life as an abstract thinker. (I had never encountered an argument against Christianity.)

    It took only my first year of university to disenchant me, not only with Lewis’s arguments but with arguments ‘proving’ the existence of a deity at all. I became a mystic because I figured that was the only way to retain my faith. Around the same time, I lost interest in biology.

    Now, in my last year of university, I’ve finally come to the stunning realization that no, I don’t need religion for anything. Part of my letting-go process involved Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion–in which he exposes the arguments Lewis makes (and a number of others) as the rhetorical fluff they really are.

    I’ve taken up biology again, and am wondering how Francis Collins manages to juggle it all.

  13. #13 Steve LaBonne
    August 26, 2007

    To be fair, though, Collins didn’t say he read the first three pages, did he?

    Ever read that piece of dreck? I have, out of morbid curiosity. That was actually one of the better “arguments” in it, believe it or not. (The hands-down worst being “lunatic, liar or Lord”, one of the dumbest things ever committed to print.)

  14. #14 Steve_C
    August 26, 2007

    Anyone need further proof that there is no god?

    Don’t go in the water.

    http://www.joe-ks.com/archives_aug2007/PiranhaOnSteroids.htm

  15. #15 Janine
    August 26, 2007

    Gee, humans are social creatures and depend on treating each other in some fudamentally decent manner in order for all of us to survive. Therefore, it is proof that some higher power installed this “Law Of Nature” in all of us.

    No, all this means is that our species would be long dead if we turned towards being complete antisocial.

    Yet an other book I never have any reason to read. Thanks to PZ for saving that bit of time.

  16. #16 Michael
    August 26, 2007

    I’m currently reading Mark D. Hausers’ MORAL MINDS and it takes up the very question of whether or not we have an inate foundation for building our morals. But unlike Lewis who already had his answer before he thought of his question, Hauser looks to find a natural answer that can be tested. Much like our capability for language, he argues that our morality evolved as well.

    It makes for good reading, no matter what your opinion is. If only Mere Christianity could be the same way…

  17. #17 Aaron
    August 26, 2007

    Ah, Lewis… funny thing, a Law of Nature that we all must follow, unless we don’t. “The Code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules…”

  18. #18 True Bob
    August 26, 2007

    Well, thanks. As said above, another book I won’t be reading.

    Steve, that is an awesome fish. Any idea what it really is and where it’s from?

  19. #19 Venger
    August 26, 2007

    I’m too new to being an evil intolerant narrow minded atheist to make it through that. I haven’t found my balance yet and just end up sputtering in shock at the sheer stupidity of that many people or falling asleep.

    I just can’t seem to get past how small and constrained the theists seem to want to make the universe, like their creation myth is actually more impressive that what is really out there. Their great god just comes across as this petty ignorant bully doing bad slight of hand, and I just can’t see the great part. They seem to think if they tell me often enough it might some how be true. How does any of that compare favorably to trillions of stars, billions of years, billions of interlocking evolving life forms, resulting in a being capable of appreciating the irony of just how pathetic religion is? I just don’t get it.

  20. #20 Interrobang
    August 26, 2007

    One wonders what C.S. Lewis would have done if confronted by the phrase “social contract,” and the knowledge to make sense of it.

    Jesus built my hotrod social contract. Riiight…

  21. #21 woozy
    August 26, 2007

    *sigh*

    I rather have a soft spot for C.S. Lewis although I had to wrestle with it for decades. Lewis seems a bit “odd” to me in that being a devout and literal Christian he never behaves the way I expect devout and literal Christians to behave. (Namely idiotically, closed-minded, and very stupid.)

    In this argument he is trying to strip away labels and baggage associated with what we debaters may may have with the concept of “Christianity” and with “Atheism” and get to a general common sense idea of how we all deep down “know” the world is regardless of whatever labels and rules we may have added upon it. There is some merit to this approach. How often have we heard morality can’t exist without a belief in God. We can counter this be questioning whether a morality based on a belief of personal reward, or in an ultimate authority figure is moral, and what is the nature of morality, and rehash Ethics 101, but when you get down to it, we all have a sense of morality because, darn it, it’s the right thing to do. End of discussion.

    Basically, he’s trying to argue against what we would today call “relativism”. Look, he says, you might academically argue there are no absolutes but deep down you know there are.

    Except I don’t. I really *do* believe in relativism. Yes, it’s vague and is hard and I don’t always have all the answers and some opinions are more widely held than others (“killing is bad”), but that doesn’t mean giving into an absolute is an acceptable, much less the *only* acceptable, alternative.

    I feel that Lewis’ world view is just too narrow and niave, though. He’s never really explored any other anthropological culture or even cultures separated by periods of time. Perhaps this is his point; we are European and Europe has a universal code based on Christianity. He seems to not believe we should be Christians because Christianity is right, but rather to believe we should be Christians because we *want* to be Christians and being Christians will make us happy.

    Actually, I don’t really understand him.

    Lot’s of folks *do* like him. I think he makes people feel comfortable. Much as patrotism makes folks feel comfortable. I dunno, I figure relativism and “everything being a matter of degree” and “relying on what I can deduce” to be *more* comfortable. But then again I was born in California in 1961 and not England before the first world war.

  22. #22 Shnakepup
    August 26, 2007

    Must…resist…urge…to…convert…*kchkgh!*

    Seriously, though. People have pretty much the same moral inclinations, therefore there is absolute morality and god exists? Ugh. When will people learn that the golden rule came before modern christianity, not after?

  23. #24 tourettist
    August 26, 2007

    I fell asleep 3 or 4 paragraphs into Lewis, hence my failure to see the light. Did he always write for the primary grades or did he pen books for adults too?

  24. #25 Steve_C
    August 26, 2007

    No idea what that fish is… it looks like some crazy african river fish.

  25. #26 Stogoe
    August 26, 2007

    Mr Bond makes me think it’s time for the greatest of all Simpsons quotes:

    But what if we picked the wrong God? Every week we’re just making Him madder and madder.

    Also:

    Bont: Scorpio, you’re mad. Do you expect me to talk?
    Hank Scorpio: I don’t expect you to anything but die and be a very cheap funeral. You’re going to die now!

  26. #27 Mike O'Risal
    August 26, 2007

    Ah, what a trifecta of crap. Lewis, Collins and Bond.

    But what good is there trying to reason with those who ignore evidence and logic itself. There is none.

    Therefore, we must sometimes satisfy ourselves with the simple statement to the people that they are full of it. That they are, as Harry Houdini would have said, “mental degenerates.” That they express eloquently the most dismal of idiocies.

    There is nothing else to say to these unfortunate defectives who throw away the whole world to chase after fairy tales, all the while burbling warning about things they have never experienced and cannot evidence except to repeat the fairy tale itself.

    It is, in the end, a mental illness that, even though there may be functional intelligence in other areas, reduces people to the state of children in this one. Such is this religion.

  27. #28 B. Dewhirst
    August 26, 2007

    Wow, Lewis Godwined himself…

  28. #29 dorid
    August 26, 2007

    Still laughing at our Christian troll, who takes the screen name of a killer and womanizer… but at least it woke me up after reading Lewis.

    Look, I have to agree with certain degrees of relativism. At the same time, there are SOME absolutes: absolutes which allow us to function as social animals. Geez, I’ve been subjected to Meerkat Manor with the kids all this week… even THEY have behaviors that are and are not tolerated. Evidence of “morals”? But wouldn’t “morals” require a soul?

    hmmm… I wonder if Lewis ever considered invisible magic guys to be against the Laws of Nature…

  29. #30 PaulJ
    August 26, 2007

    The extract of Lewis that PZ quotes is – as far as it goes – simply saying what Dawkins and others have been saying: morality is within us.

    Lewis may go on to say that the morality within us comes from God (I don’t know – I haven’t read Mere Christianity. But I agree, what’s quoted wouldn’t have convinced me of anything. In fact I find the style rather simplistic and condescending. Was Lewis writing it for children? Or did he find it impossible to switch out of his ‘children’s fiction’ mode?

  30. #31 CalGeorge
    August 26, 2007

    I think I need another dose, PZ.

    I’ve absorbed the three pages and I’m pretty sure I’m still a raving atheist.

  31. #32 Janine
    August 26, 2007

    #19One wonders what C.S. Lewis would have done if confronted by the phrase “social contract,” and the knowledge to make sense of it.

    Jesus built my hotrod social contract. Riiight…

    Posted by: Interrobang | August 26, 2007 06:57 PM

    I loves me some Ministry reference.

    Soon I discovered that this rock thing was true
    Jerry lee lewis was the devil
    Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet
    All of a sudden, I found myself in love with the world
    So there was only one thing that I could do
    Was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long

    Damn, now I need to dig out my old single.

  32. #33 dorid
    August 26, 2007

    It looks like I have to recant that last already.
    Meerkats are obviously souless killing machines.

  33. #34 Kausik Datta
    August 26, 2007

    Lewis said:

    I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. they say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” – “That’s my seat, I was there first” – “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” – “Why should you shove in first?” – “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine” – “Come on, you promised.” People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.

    What I completely fail to understand is why he insists on characterizing these commonplace situations as evidence for existence of a higher standard arbitrarily imposed by some higher power!

    I see it as: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” (empathy); “That’s my seat, I was there first” (competition, goal-oriented behaviour, accomplishment); “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” (tolerance); “Why should you shove in first?” (restraint); “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine” (barter, trade); “Come on, you promised.” (sincerity, adherence to a contract, truthfulness).

    Are these not the basic behavioural guidelines that human beings started adhering to during the first days of forming a herd or group with a common purpose, survival and propagation? Are these not the most logical choices available to the early man in order to maximize efficiency as a group? Aren’t some variants of these behavioural choices commonly observed among non-human primates, as well as other herd mammals, such as elephants?

    I think that the overwhelming urge to conflate these natural observations with religious overtures, as experienced by Lewis and Collins, comes from being steeped in religious dogma and bias, and therefore, cannot be used as arguments in support of religion and god. I can understand the motivations of the apologist Lewis; Collins, as a biologist, should have known better, but his eyes are of course blinded by Rapture!!

  34. #35 Stuart Coleman
    August 26, 2007

    At this point I think that Francis Collins has a much better libel suit against you than Stuart Pivar.

  35. #36 donna
    August 26, 2007

    Hey, I believed the stuff C.S. Lewis wrote about the talking lion, too.

    But then I had a talking lion as a kid – Larry the Lion. I pulled his string and he talked. Loved that lion….

  36. #37 Christian Burnham
    August 26, 2007

    Uh, ‘Christian’ is capitalized. Thank-you.

  37. #38 Stanton
    August 26, 2007

    Well, thanks. As said above, another book I won’t be reading.

    Steve, that is an awesome fish. Any idea what it really is and where it’s from?

    That fish is the African Tigerfish, one of any species of the genus Hydrocynus. It is a relative of the Congo tetra, as well as the neon tetra and piranha.

  38. #39 Citizen
    August 26, 2007

    Aaaaaaaaaaaagh….(scream cuts off abruptly)

    …We are the Christian Borg. Lower your brain and surrender your reason. We will add your testimony to our already vast collection of propaganda. Resistance is futile.

    (This is all your fault, Dr. Myers!)

  39. #40 Kingreaper
    August 26, 2007

    I don’t even see where CS Lewis argues for christianity in that piece. He’s laying the groundwork, reaching a conclusion I agree with (that people have consciences but don’t always obey them) in order to springboard from it towards Christianity, using convoluted, almost imperceptibly flawed, logic. But he hasn’t reached that point in the excerpt; and one thing I’ve got to admit about CS Lewis is he was generally a good judge of humanity.

    His religion clouded his judgement occasionally, but when it is not mentioned, he often makes honest points.

  40. #41 Stanton
    August 26, 2007

    His religion clouded his judgement occasionally, but when it is not mentioned, he often makes honest points.

    That was only when he let a certain talking lion talk for him…

  41. #42 IM
    August 26, 2007

    “Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. ”
    Ha! The guy has never heard of the U.S. of A!

    I blame Tolkien, he did convert Lewis after all.

  42. #43 steve_h2
    August 26, 2007

    Everyone has heard people quarrelling

    Ha! what an idiot. There’s no way I’m, …. oh, wait a minute, I’ve heard people quarrelling, this quys got it exactly right, praise the Lord!

    (Not related to steve_h, with the other email address who won’t be winning the 500,000th post.)

  43. #44 IM
    August 26, 2007

    I’m a Narnia fan, but this excerpt discourages me from ever reading his apologias. He is just a warmed over Chesterton after all.
    Has anybody here read his science fiction books? Readable or to preachy?

  44. #45 windy
    August 26, 2007

    …for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle…

    Or for turning the other cheek? Or for beating their swords into ploughshares? So which is the unchangeable Moral Law, to love your enemies, or to bravely try and kill them?

    Christians arguing against moral relativism, always as wacky!

  45. #46 woozy (but if the odds of God are zero or "infintesimal"...)
    August 26, 2007

    #7

    Dude, Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work.

    Sigh. One of my pet peeves is the persistant belief that “Pascal’s Wager” was a theological argument using mathematics. It wasn’t. It was a mathematical argument using a theology as an example. Probability and gaming theory were new concepts as was the idea of making concrete calculations on indeterminable results (which must be done to calculate insurance). Much as a gambler, or an insurance broker, can calculate “expected returns” by examining odds and consequential returns (example, if a ship has a 1 in a 100 chance of capsizing, and insurance policy paying of 1 to 100 its a reasonable investment), Pascal possitted taking it to extremes with “infinite rewards” against exceedingly small long odds. In other words, if anything were the offer *infinite* returns it will *always* be a desirable return no matter how small the actual odds are. (He actually made a mistake in that although he could imagine an infinite number, he didn’t correctly percieve “the infintesimal” number as distinct from zero.) Mathematically, infinite returns, make betting on anything with any probability at all no matter how small the odds a “sure thing”. This is a counter-intuitive idea and he needed an illustration to show it. What, in practicality, could represent “infinite reward”. Well, he decided the concept of “religious salvation” could be seen as such. Thus he argued, even though the odds that God may exist might be a thousand to one, a million to one, a billion to one, as long as it is finite offering infinite rewards means it’s a “good bet”. That’s *all* Pascal’s wager was: A mathematical illustration. It works as theoretical argument about as much as putting a tortoise in my walkway works as burglary alarm. (Using Zeno’s paradox the burglar can not reach my house without reaching the tortoise first but by the time the burglar can’t reach the tortoise without first reaching where the tortoise was and by that time…)

    If anything, Pascals Wager tacitly assumes the probability of God existing is really very small (though possible). If God existing was large (say 50%) he wouldn’t have to offer eternal salvation to win us over. Just $20 on a $10 bet would be enough.

  46. #47 Matt the heathen
    August 26, 2007

    TLDNR…

  47. #48 Alex
    August 26, 2007

    What a complete tool. I read that portion of Mere Christianity when I was thirteen and I didn’t find it at all convincing. If I could figure that much out two years ago, then I can’t see what’s so great about Collins.
    Coincidentally, I read that portion of Mere Christianity again a few days ago, since it’s at the very beginning of the book and I was talking with someone about it online. I was even less convinced by it now and Lewis’ arguments are incredibly weak. If Collins can become convinced of God’s existence from such weak arguments, he’s either stupid or cares more about what he wants to be true than what is true.
    From Wikipedia: “…dealing with dying patients led him to question his religious views, and he investigated various faiths. He became a believer after observing the faith of his critically ill patients and reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.”
    Seems like a logical way to come to a valid conclusion to me.

  48. #49 lunartalks
    August 26, 2007

    Most go off and edit Lewis’ wikipedia entry, credit him with the invention the random incomprehensible Christian bullshit prose generator.

  49. #50 K
    August 26, 2007

    “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” – “That’s my seat, I was there first” – “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” – “Why should you shove in first?” – “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine” – “Come on, you promised…People say things like that every day…”

    Ok, I get it. He has some job where he spends WAY too much time with toddlers, right? He should try getting out and mingling with grown-ups for a while. Perhaps he wouldn’t be so quick to believe in a sky-daddy if he socialized with people his own age?

  50. #51 Jack Rawlinson
    August 26, 2007

    I read Lewis’s absurdly puerile garbage back when I was still absurdly puerile, and yet it still made me snort with derision. It’s interesting seeing some of it here again for the first time in something like 36 years. It hasn’t gotten any smarter.

    My god… the faith heads actually hold this desiccated old berk and his simple-minded ideas up as some sort of definitive, clinching statement on christian belief. Astounding. This is really still the best they can do?

  51. #52 woozy
    August 26, 2007

    What I completely fail to understand is why he insists on characterizing these commonplace situations as evidence for existence of a higher standard arbitrarily imposed by some higher power!

    I see it as: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” (empathy); ….

    Are these not the basic behavioural guidelines that human beings started adhering to during the first days of forming a herd or group with a common purpose, survival and propagation?

    I think that was his point. Because there are universal laws all humans share they are a “natural law” because everyone knows them without a culture ever teaching them. They had to have come from somewhere and that was from another “universal law” the belief in a God that gave these laws.

    I always figured a counter argument would be all the “indecent” common laws that everyone knows but which keep us apart. “Here hold on to this; is better you have it than some stranger” “Don’t talk about family business to outsiders” “It’s us or them” “Family first” “Our race is superior to others” “Honor among thieves” etc.

    In some other essay he argued it was impossible to imagine a society where cowardice was admired or where breaking promises was considered honorable. When I read that I had two and a half immediate thoughts: 1) Cowardice and dishonesty don’t help a society so any society with such values wouldn’t last 1 1/2) Cowardice and dishonesty are personally easier so thus not uniquely notable nor are they definable except in contrast to bravery and honesty so although I can’t imagine a society where cowardice and dishonesty are considered virtues I can easily imaginee societies where bravery and honesty aren’t given any consideration as virtues at all and in fact anthropologists know of many such cultures and 2) Hold on; in anti-vietnam anti-draft groups “cowardice/refusing to die for a greater cause” *is* considered virtuous and in gangster movies double-crossing a rat or a weak patsie or making a power grab *is* considered admirable as a sign of strength or cleverness.

    It alway seemed to me that he was being pretty limited in his outlook and that his “natural laws” were either not natural at all. e.g.. a culture with strong family ties and limited resources will value supporting a family member over helping a stranger or “being fair” whereas a culture with many but disparate resources will value helping others and empathy “being fair” as a practical way to share resources while others will have none at all. Or other “natural laws” are only natural in that all humans have the same sense of self-perservation.

  52. #53 david
    August 26, 2007

    I just have no respect for a person who lives his life an atheist and gets religion just before death; sort of a hedge play,no?

  53. #54 octopod
    August 26, 2007

    Well, all of his sci-fi that I ever read was Perelandra, which didn’t make much sense. He really does fairy-tales much better than preaching, but he seems to have liked preaching better. Pity.

  54. #55 CalGeorge
    August 26, 2007

    If Collins can become convinced of God’s existence from such weak arguments, he’s either stupid or cares more about what he wants to be true than what is true.

    Uh-oh. You’ve done it now! You’ve used the “S” word!

    Ten or fifteen people are going to come onto this thread and tell you to stop with the name calling.

    Brace yourself!

  55. #56 articulett-- the ungodly goddess
    August 26, 2007

    Yeah… Lewis says that “pride is the worse sin of all”–

    I kinda thought pedophilia, torture, and warmongering was worse, but what do I know? –I’m a “mere” atheist.

    Oh– and “thinking is as bad as doing”. Really? If you don’t mind, I’d prefer you think of maiming me than actually doing so, and I suspect the justice system would agree.

    C.S. Lewis also says “all men love to drink beer and hate”. So how ’bout it guys– is that true?

    Reading C.S. Lewis made me learn that people can read the most inane crap and find supposed “deep truths” in most anything –and then convince themselves that they are in on special secrets of the universe.

  56. #57 Kimpatsu
    August 26, 2007

    David Mills wrote a marvellous explanation of why Lewis and Collins are wrong in Atheist Universe. Lewis is assuming that the law of gravity causes objects to fall, but that isn’t the case. What we call the laws of nature are physical descriptions of how science observes the universe to work; such laws no more cause their observed outcome than a sports writer causes the outcome of the football game on which he reports. Lewis and Collins are putting the cart before the horse.
    Which is appropriate, given that their writings are full of manure.

  57. #58 Owlmirror
    August 26, 2007

    I blame Tolkien, he did convert Lewis after all.

    Um. Lewis’ conversion experience (in some ways oddly similar to Collins’, possibly both instances of temporal lobe seizure) was probably tangentally related to his relationship with Tolkien. Also, Lewis became an Anglican, which made Tolkien, a staunch Catholic, a bit unhappy.

    There’s a scene in The Last Battle (I think I was rereading it because of Neil Gaiman’s “The Problem of Susan”) where it seemed very likely, to me, that Lewis was deliberately mocking Catholicism (it’s the description of Shift, the Ape, wearing a paper crown and demanding tribute, and all like that). I sometimes wonder what Lewis really intended with that — and how Tolkien actually reacted to it.

    Regarding Lewis’ SF: If you don’t find the Narnia books to be too preachy, you might be OK with the Space Trilogy. Just keep in mind, that as with Narnia, Lewis is writing with the specific premise that Christianity is absolutely true, and the conflicts in the books mirror specifically Christian and religious motifs — just as many of the themes in the Narnia books do.

    That being said, I vaguely recall the first and third to be OK, and the middle one, Perelandra, to be somewhat dull. But it’s been a while.

  58. #59 Ilya
    August 26, 2007

    Lewis doesn’t realize that he is arguing for evolution through natural selection. A country where people were admired for running away in battle wouldn’t survive very long; therefore, the countries remaining are those where such people were despised.

  59. #60 Zeno
    August 26, 2007

    IM: Has anybody here read his science fiction books? Readable or to preachy?

    I read Lewis’s “Space Trilogy” back in college, so it’s been many years. The three novels were quite peculiar, an odd blend of Arthurian legend, Christian mythos, and horror show. In Out of the Silent Planet, the Earth is isolated from the other worlds of the solar system because of the Fall of Adam. The protagonist Ransom learns about the Earth’s fallen state and the battle over whether it can be restored to the greater community or abandoned to evil. He falls in with scientists who travel to Mars in pursuit of wealth and power, taking Ransom with them. Ransom meets wise Martians who lecture at him. The bad scientists go gold hunting. Some problems are resolved before the return to Earth and some are left open for the sequels.

    I enjoyed it enough to continue on with Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. The second volume takes place mostly on Venus and the third mostly on Earth (as I recall). Secular scientists are the bad guys (one clearly in league with the devil — an avatar of Satan? — and one a lesbian caricature) and Lewis visits various atrocities on the bad guys. That’s okay, though, because they’re bad and deserve hideous deaths. Merlin has a bit part and one of the characters turns out to be “the Pendragon.”

    Mostly readable, often bizarre, occasionally preachy — altogether strange. But I think you get to meet Jesus on Venus, which sounds catchy.

  60. #61 Rick T
    August 26, 2007

    “It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may sometimes be mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table. Now if we are agreed about that, I go on to my next point, which is this. None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature.”

    It can’t be “a real Right and Wrong” if each society has a different code of conduct regardless of the fact that they are similar. Did God issue many different versions of morality?
    Also, this would mean that the multiplication table analogy would be false if each society came up with slightly different answers to their math problems. “2 x 2 = 5. Wow, what a coincidence. We think 2 x 2 = 4. That’s almost the same. There must be a God who designed it all.”

    It makes more sense that we are moral animals because we are social animals. Morals differ because they are transmitted to the young and not innate. That is, the particulars are not absolute but the tendency to be moral is. Lewis says, “none of us are really keeping the Law of Nature” and I say it’s because we balance the need to get along with the desire to better our standing or situation. If it were a law from God then we would no more break the code than defy gravity. It would be part of our nature and not a matter in our control.
    I remember a nature program on TV. A young male was “dating” a young female from behind a bush. They were both looking over the bush at the alpha male acting nonchalant while doing their business. Every time the dominant male would look their way they would stop and act innocent until he looked away and then it was back to boinking again. If monkeys can know “right and wrong” and can break the rules for their own benefit, why does Lewis feel the need to ascribe to God the same sort of behavior in humans?

  61. #62 Kagehi
    August 26, 2007

    Snort! I am more likely to be converted to belief in Elves from Mercedes Lackey’s books than Christianity by Lewis. At least she tries to provide some semblance of an explanation for all the supernatural baggage that collects under the car seats of faith. lol

    Her latest book (Music To My Sorrow), which I read last night, has an evangelical nut who is trying to regain his daughter, so he can use her powers to drive people the direction he wants. He has, since 9/11 changed his message from a message of money (or sorry, I mean love and peace) to one of money (though also hate of everything not white or that smells of Islam). Add to the mix two idiot parents mucking around in the lives of another character, who want a trophy son (graduate of some big music college that will be the next Mozart), but also want him to be docile, and do everything they want. The news church of the evangelical is a mix of casino, dominionist conspiracy theory hot house, and now also white supremicist, which also sidelines in helping parents with kids who are “troubled”. So far, not hard to imagine in our world.

    The woo bits are that its dark elves pushing the ministry that direction, some other nut also showing up with tech toys designed to *hunt* spookies (elves, etc.) and starts working for the same fool, which of course pisses off the spookies already there, and the “help” being given to the troubled kids involves sticking them in a room and having their brains (or at least ambition, innate skill and creativity) sucked out of them, leaving them as happy, easily controlled zombie, useless for anything but a stint asking people, “Do you want fries with that?”

    Seriously, **any** of the supernatural BS some/most Christians think exists did, I would rather get shot at by people in a war zone than live near any of it, even if there where also Bards, Guardians, etc. trying to protect the world from it. But, her “urban fantasy” novels are always a good read, once you get into a sort of Buffy the Vampire Slayer mind set. ;) And, while she is probably one of the, “lets be nice to the less nuts people”, types, she is **absolutely** on our side when it comes to the general perception of the number, type and extent of the con artists, liars and nuts around.

  62. #63 Mark
    August 26, 2007

    Whenever I hear a christian apologist claim to have once been an atheist I know from that point on that he is a liar or at the very least mistaken. I do not believe that such a transition can be made.

    Mostly I chalk it up to some sort of debating tactic intended to lead people to believe that he is in possession of some great truth of which you know nothing because you have not returned from atheism into the light.

    I know I may be employing a form of the no true Scotsman fallacy but I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that someone sane and rational enough to escape the delusion of religious belief could then regress back into the delusion, that is unless and until god chooses to appear before us all and proclaim himself lord (yeah, right).

    -Mark

  63. #64 Neil B.
    August 26, 2007

    I have to imagine that “real right and wrong” are somehow accessible in principle to logical insight. If there wasn’t an objective reality to ethics, then if God exists, He/she/it could just as easily pick anything to say was the right thing to do; i.e. it would be good because God wills it. Whether God exists or not, that is grotesque to me and I must therefore imagine that: God wills it if h/s/i exists, whether h/s/i can do anything about it or not, and it just “is so” in any case. Therefore the subject can be formulated independent of God.

  64. #65 K. Engels
    August 26, 2007

    Whenever I hear a christian apologist claim to have once been an atheist I know from that point on that he is a liar or at the very least mistaken. I do not believe that such a transition can be made.

    “I used to be…” It is one of the oldest tricks in the Christian missionary play book. Part of my job is developing a library collection related to Middle East studies/Islamic Studies… There are numerous books written by Christians who are ‘former Muslims’ who seem to know absolutely nothing about Islam, not even the most basic facts (dates, names of members of Muhammad’s family, etc.). The jackets of the book play up the authority of these ‘former Muslims’, but I’m sure a good number of these books are frauds. Same thing goes for any other “I used to be an [atheist|buddhist|hindu|jew|wiccan]” stories.

  65. #66 Mark
    August 26, 2007

    I think everyone here believes there is a “law” of human nature (although we might have a different name for it). But how much of the law is one born with and how much is learned? Do we have a “law module” into which we will insert rules we learn within an appropriate developmental window?

    Do we know stealing is wrong because someone told us so? Do we apply that feeling of guilt when we steal something because we were taught a special thing about stealing? Or did the guilt feeling emerge because at some time early in life we had something of our own stolen and we could transfer that earlier emotion onto the would be victim of our own thievery?

    Is morality an artifact of our ability to model the thoughts of others?

  66. #67 Neil B.
    August 26, 2007

    Up there here and there about Pascal’s wager: aside from what Pascal was trying to do (a separate issue anyway from the independent “life of the idea” once broached…) I don’t see any true case for what makes the P’sW not relevant. Unless you could really explain why the chance of something taking your disbelief (of just what exactly, but I digress) out on you was indeed zero, then it does make sense crudley and simply to believe in “something” at no real cost to head that off, more or less.

    PS: To scare the readers, I note that the idea of afterlife is not as absurd as you think: if you can believe that a computer program does not “die” just because the machine it ran on is gone, then your mind maybe could “run” again somewhere else. That likely needs a multiverse etc., but such ideas are prevalent in physics in limited form (string theory Landscape) and in more eye-popping omnifarious form in modal realism. Hey, you can’t really deny the argument in MR that there really is no logically rigorous way to define “existing” in a material sense versus logical description of so-called platonic model worlds. Cackle.

    tyrannogenius

  67. #68 Ken Cope
    August 26, 2007

    … so-called platonic model worlds. Cackle.

    Platonists.

    The only circle of hell lower is reserved for Randroids.

  68. #69 Caledonian
    August 26, 2007

    I know I may be employing a form of the no true Scotsman fallacy but I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that someone sane and rational enough to escape the delusion of religious belief could then regress back into the delusion

    Rationality is difficult and complicated. Credulity is simple and easy. Difficult and complicated can always revert to simple and easy.

  69. #70 Bond, James Bond
    August 26, 2007

    Woozy you stated:
    If anything, Pascals Wager tacitly assumes the probability of God existing is really very small (though possible). If God existing was large (say 50%) he wouldn’t have to offer eternal salvation to win us over. Just $20 on a $10 bet would be enough.
    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one. Yet if an infinite number of other universes have to be postulated to account for this precise universe then it also infinitely possible for God to exist no matter how small the probability, and if it is infinitely possible for God to exist then he certainly must exist for it is infinitely possible for Him to exist. Thus the probability for Almighty God existing is 100%. So if I were you I would make the bet!

  70. #71 woozy
    August 26, 2007

    I always get the feeling that I’m really not understanding Lewis. I mean the guy really isn’t stupid so he must be arguing or explaining things on a different level then I’m assuming. For example, when Nietszche said “God is dead” he obviously wasn’t claiming that God was an organic being who had lived his life and at some time expired. Obviously, when Lewis says “pride is the greatest sin” (greater than pedaphellia or murder) or “thinking is as bad as doing” he isn’t measuring it in terms of colateral damage as an atheist would (who wouldn’t consider pedaphelia or murder “sins” so much as “crimes”) but then I’m not sure *what* level Lewis is talking about. Thing is, I *know* Lewis is smarter in his field (he was a Cambridge Don for God’s sake) than I am in his field so when I find his arguments simplistic I figure he must be arguing about something that is important to him and I simply don’t even recognize as an issue at all.

    I mean, I absolutely refuse to be so arogant as to claim “Well, I don’t understand it so it must be meaningless and false”.

    I’ve met plenty of people who don’t get abstract math. In trying to discuss “how the world works” I usually concede that math is an abstraction, but that doesn’t diminish its “importance”. This was usually just fine with me until a friend stated in all seriousness she didn’t understand how I could believe in Banach Spaces and understand believing in God. I must admit this through me through a loop which I never resolved. But…

    So, honestly, what is Lewis (and for that matter intelligent Christians in general) trying to *say*?

  71. #72 Brian W.
    August 26, 2007

    i’ve read Mere Christianity. In my opinion the worst part of it is where he attempts to explain why the man should be the head of the household. He says:

    “If there must be a head, why the man? Well, firstly is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As i have said, I am not married myself, but as far as i can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say ‘Poor Mr. X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than i can imagine.’ I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own ‘headship’. There must be somthing unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule. But there is another reason; and here i speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than inside. The relations of the family to the outer world – what might be called its foreign policy – must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always out to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders.”

    And it goes on like that for a bit more. Is that not one of the stupidest things you’ve ever read?

  72. #73 J Daley
    August 26, 2007

    Huh. Pevensie, the name of the Narnia children, is an anagram for penseive, the thing from Harry Potter used to “read” memories.

    Hidden homage?

    Hey, I just ascribed meaning where there was none. I need to write a book! I’ll call it Mere Anagrams

  73. #74 Caledonian
    August 26, 2007

    I mean, I absolutely refuse to be so arogant as to claim “Well, I don’t understand it so it must be meaningless and false”.

    Very well – what is sufficient to convince you that something IS meaningless and false?

  74. #75 CalGeorge
    August 26, 2007

    The relations of the family to the outer world – what might be called its foreign policy – must depend, in the last resort, upon the man…”

    Holy cow, what an asshole!

  75. #76 Rieux
    August 26, 2007

    Are these not the basic behavioural guidelines that human beings started adhering to during the first days of forming a herd or group with a common purpose, survival and propagation?

    It’s been 10+ years since I read Mere Christianity, but if I recall correctly the very next chapter presents Lewis’ response to this “herd instinct” argument. I don’t recall how he gets there, but the upshot is that Lewis dismisses any idea of any biological/hereditary/genetic origin for Moral Law.

  76. #77 Abc
    August 26, 2007

    Hm, and all this time I thought science and religion could mix. : P

    Richard Dawkins’ compartmentalization hypothesis explains Francis Collins behavior quite well. Francis Collins puts religion in one compartment and science in the other, thus preventing himself from realizing the negative theological implications of an old universe and Darwinian evolution.

  77. #78 sailor
    August 26, 2007

    “All I know PZ is that when I was in a really bad spot in my life God was there for me.”
    Good for you maybe, a pity for the rest of us….

  78. #79 Scott Hatfield, OM
    August 26, 2007

    So much heat, and so little light, for a man who was not a scientist, who first made the argument under discussion on a radio program in the middle of WWII. Wynne-Edwards’ account of group selection (1962), Hamilton’s Rule (1964) and Trivers’ paper on reciprocal altruism (1971) came a bit later, and it wasn’t until the sociobiology controversy at Harvard in the late 1970′s that this stuff started entering the popular culture.

    I certainly don’t think that Collins is making a good argument by invoking Lewis on this topic, and I know that this is just another target for some of you, but come on: like Collins (who doesn’t really give more recent findings a fair shake), some of the critics here aren’t presenting Lewis in context. We might as well bash Darwin for not having an account of how traits were inherited: what a maroon that Charlie was!

  79. #80 Skeptic8
    August 26, 2007

    Hmm- my Real Player must have downloaded a critic; it wouldn.t play the Collins interview.
    Compared to the Dominionists (Abrahamic &c) these rarified “God did it & I’m figurin’ it out” Theist-verging-on-Deist do little harm by passin’ on popular memes to sell a book.
    CSL’s fiction was pleasant fantasy but he went a bit off the track in declaring HIS fantasy real. That’s when it got BORING.

  80. #81 woozy
    August 26, 2007

    Whoa! BS meter going off the chart.

    Bond, James Bond:
    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    Where on earth, and how on earth to figure this? What’s the math and what are the figures? But, okay, an infinite number of universes, erm, maybe…

    Yet if an infinite number of other universes have to be postulated to account for this precise universe then it also infinitely possible for God to exist no matter how small the probability,

    Wrong! Poor understanding of math, probability, and “infinite”. What would you say is the probability that 14 is a prime number? In how many of these infinite universes will 14 be a prime number. What about the axiom of choice? No matter how many times you roll a dice theres always a probably that a six will never show up. Hence we can choose or infinite number of universes from the infinite number where the six never show up. Hence in an infinite number of universe it’s possible for 6′s to never show up and they have the huge probability 1 in 6, much higher then the odds that God exists.

    Okay, those were answering silly wordplay with more silly wordplay because it’s easier then answering your non-answerables. But here are the two wrong assumptions you make:

    1) That any given statement has a well defined probability. That might be true for statements like “A species of Black Swans exist” but for statements like “Aristotlean logic holds true”, “14 is/isn’t prime”, “God will exist in this universe” and “This sentence is false” are meaningless and unquantifiable.

    2) You, like Pascal, overlook that probabilities can be zero or even more relevant infintesimal. Mathematically, the irrational numbers infinately outnumber the rational numbers thus were one to pick a number at random the odds of it being rational are infinitely, *not* finitely, small. One may have infinite number of universes all with different numbers attached to them yet it’s utterly concieveable *none* of them have the number 2.7. Nor do any of them need to have God existing whatever that means.

    and if it is infinitely possible for God to exist then he certainly must exist for it is infinitely possible for Him to exist.

    Yes, but by the same reasoning it’s infinitely possible for God to *not* exist. Or both exist and not exist. Or for *anything* to exist. So by your reasoning *everything* must exist. Including God, Anti-God, Hera, Baal, and Quignix, a super-being who likes me and me alone and will feed me ice-cream for eternity and is more powerful than your God and therefore I don’t have to worry about your God at all.

    >> Thus the probability for Almighty God existing is 100%. So if I were you I would make the bet!

    No, I’ll just go to the universe where I’ve already won the bet without having to have placed it in the first place.

  81. #82 Krystalline Apostate
    August 26, 2007

    Mark:

    I know I may be employing a form of the no true Scotsman fallacy but I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that someone sane and rational enough to escape the delusion of religious belief could then regress back into the delusion

    Rates of recidivism are high among substance abusers.
    Bland, James Bland:

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one

    Or, just billions of years & compounded simplicity.

  82. #83 woozy
    August 26, 2007

    Me: I mean, I absolutely refuse to be so arogant as to claim “Well, I don’t understand it so it must be meaningless and false”.

    Caledonia: Very well – what is sufficient to convince you that something IS meaningless and false?

    Ha!! Good question!

    Answer: My having a comprehension of what they are trying to say in the first place, is the first requirement. Then when I have that any bit of logic, common sense, physical evidence, etc. can do it. But if I don’t even understand what they are trying to say…

  83. #84 flame821
    August 26, 2007

    Steve #13 and Bob #17

    Not sure if anyone responded to you yet, but that is a Tiger Fish. A Goliath tiger fish, if I’m not mistaken

    back to reading the comments

  84. #85 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    Tigerfish are prized game fish in Africa, the fish-equivalent of lion safaris, even.

  85. #86 Max Udargo
    August 27, 2007

    The thing that most struck me about Lewis’ argument is that he has no awareness of the privileged perspective from which he derives his universal laws of human nature.

    A man who thinks people always argue within the framework of a shared sense of what is fair is a man who’s never found himself looking into the barrel of a gun.

  86. #87 rich (richmanwisco)
    August 27, 2007

    Natural law? Sounds like somebody’s been using Lawson for inspiration. Now that guy had it going on well before Hubbard. http://richmanwisco.blogspot.com/2007/06/sign-before-it-time.html

  87. #88 Kausik Datta
    August 27, 2007

    Completely off topic, but I just found these in YouTube, and couldn’t help posting it here…
    Rowan Atkinson Live – Amazing Jesus
    Rowan Atkinson Live – Welcome to HELL!
    Enjoy everyone – a brief interlude from a heated discussion!!

  88. #89 Spinoza
    August 27, 2007

    Dr.Collins is CLEARLY unfamiliar with the realism/anti-realism debate in modern ethical philosophy.

    It is BY NO MEANS a settled question whether moral values are real or unreal, or what either of those actually MEANS.

    His false dichotomy with relation to this question just flat out annoyed me… made me angry… since I happen not only to be an atheist (okay, okay, as a philosopher, I have to be TECHNICALLY “agnostic” as a general rule of thumb, but in layman’s terms, I’m an atheist about all gods proposed thus-far), but because I am also a moral anti-realist… and this DOES NOT mean that I think morality is governed by evolution, or biology.

    I am, specifically, a Quasi-Realist/Projectivist. (if you want to learn more, wikipedia those terms).

    And I’m sorry, Dr. Collins, you’re an ignoramus. It defies my comprehension how the HEAD of the Human Genome Project could have such idiotic reasons for believing in something so silly.

  89. #90 Reb Yudel
    August 27, 2007

    Didn’t make me a Christian any more today than it did when I read it in yeshiva 20 years ago. But, it is a useful reminder that we may not live up to our moral values.

  90. #91 Maronan
    August 27, 2007

    Shorter C.S. Lewis: It exists. Therefore, my implausible and far-fetched explanation for why it exists must be true.

  91. #92 Rakel
    August 27, 2007

    Am I the only one who read this as an homage to evolutionary inbred sense of basic morality in humans? He might have been a christian (I STILL hate Narnia), but that piece of writing could be used to elaborate on why and how different people come into same moral decisions and why and how they sometimes “break the rules”.

    It is still early in here, but I try to be clear. Every population of humans seems to have this basic set of moral rules, like “Be nice”, “Obey your Mother” and “Don’t kill”. There is a reason for this, and I don’t think it is a god. Dawkins discusses this in some of his books, and for once, I think he and Mr. Lewis might agree on something, however superficially :P

  92. #93 Natasha Yar-Routh
    August 27, 2007

    Yeesh, I couldn’t get through three paragraphs much less three pages. Lewis was a crappy writer at best, didactic, badgering and just plain boring. If this dreck convinced Collins to become Christian he is either incredibly gullible or was looking for a rationalization for the conversion he had already made. Basically Lewis and Collins strike me as cowards who are afraid to think for themselves.

    AS for Mr. Bond, I expect to die Mr. Bond.

  93. #94 Tom Foss
    August 27, 2007

    Scott Hatfield (#78)

    some of the critics here aren’t presenting Lewis in context.

    It’s a fair criticism, but I think it’s a bit disingenuous to imply that Lewis could not have known of alternatives to his model for the origin of morals. Granted, the scientifically justified alternatives weren’t well-established, but Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes all were. And while those three had varying degrees of religiosity and wildly different ideas about the development of moral character, each offered a (potentially) secular alternative to Lewis’s apparent ‘therefore god.’

    And, what’s more, Lewis is still often touted as the best voice in modern Christian apologetics, even in light of the evidence that has come up since the publication of Mere Christianity. I’m sure no small part of that is just the perpetuation of hype and the continuation of tradition (and perhaps even carry-over from his popularity as a children’s author). But if there’s any truth to the claim that Christian apologetics have not progressed from a text that, from the very beginning, seems laden with fallacies and faulty assumptions, then the field is in a sorry state indeed.

  94. #95 Inoculated Mind
    August 27, 2007

    I’m surprised that no one has realized a contradiction – it seems Collins’ conversion narrative has changed. First it’s the triple-waterfall. Then it’s C.S. Lewis?

    My then-theist-ish girlfriend asked me to read that passage of C.S. Lewis and wanted to hear what I thought. I kept thinking that Lewis made a great observation – that people expect others to treat them how they want to be treated – but that people will not always treat everyone else exactly the same way, trying to maximize personal benefit. But then he kept trying to construe it into a knowledge of a law, a rule, (which if broken is supposed to be punished..?) but it a facet of the natural world, not a social construct or institution or agreement, but a hard-and-fast-rule-of-nature. Nonsense. The rule of nature, the way things operate, C.S. Lewis talked about it but didn’t realize it. The scientist in me suggests that the “Natural Law” of morality is that people will balance competition and cooperation to maximize personal benefit in concert with extended benefits through kinship and familial relationships. Sometimes this manifests as people who act impulsively and tear apart cooperative relationships, sometimes a group of people support each other and become quite successful. So he gets points for making a very good observation, but still gets the question wrong because he went in the exact opposite direction from what the subject was about. I think he started with the idea of a “moral law” and tried to figure out how it could be argued to exist. Lewis missed out on some really good insight into human behavior with this passage. And then to use it as support for theism because we want to be treated a certain way has nothing to do with any evidence for a deity.

    I suspect that anyone that reads C.S. Lewis and then comes out claiming to be converted was more likely inclined to be religious. Those who come out of C.S. Lewis not knowing what to think about it (or rolling their eyes) were unconvinced, because its not convincing.

    Does it count if Lewis’s Natural Law argument makes you less inclined to be religious, because it didn’t hold together?

  95. #96 Josh
    August 27, 2007

    There’s really nothing much to disagree with here. If I hadn’t known it was C.S. Lewis’ work, I might have assumed it was the work of an evolutionary psychologist.

  96. #97 woozy
    August 27, 2007

    Tom Foss #93

    It’s a fair criticism, but I think it’s a bit disingenuous to imply that Lewis could not have known of alternatives to his model for the origin of morals.

    This is why I can’t help but think I’m simply missing Lewis’ point. He seems to be deliberately using the naive mindset of a child who has never been outside of 1950′s England when a simple trip to Somoa, Imperial China, Ancient Egypt, the Quakers (who *would* admire those who run away in battle), or pre-Hellenistic Greece (which he knew about in writing “Till we have faces”) or pagan Britain (which he knew about in writing Narnia) would put these niave assumptions into question. Admittedly he could argue that the appearent differences aren’t actually different but by arguing naivite (of course modern anglo-saxon middle-class Brits have the same sense of morals; the all belong to the same culture and society) I figure he must be making another point. But damned if I know what it is. I can understand why he refuses to argue academically but to limit his argument to the narrow spectrum of 1950 england surely he can see the flaws. I’d almost conclude he’s saying atheist should *be* atheists, and muslims should be muslims, and australian aborigones should seek the dreamtime, except he’s arguing for Christianity in a way that I just don’t understand Christianity.

    BTW, am I the only one here who *doesn’t* believe all humans have a basic morality? I think given proper conditions absolutely anything one society would consider immoral would be considered moral in another.

  97. #98 Steven Carr
    August 27, 2007

    Languages vary from country to country, but every country has its own language.

    Suppose you asked somebody if a seat was free and he said ‘Flibble-libble dob dob’.

    You would know something was wrong. You would think him anyi-social.

    You are appealing to some kind of standard of language which you expect the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.”

    At last definitive proof that the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel is true.

    We all speak different languages, yet we expect people to use some sort of language in communication.

    Therefore, there is a God.

  98. #99 natural cynic
    August 27, 2007

    Wow, it took a long time before Inoculated Mind mentioned Collins’ different epiphanies.

    Most people here wouldn’t have to do what I did, read Mere Christianity while I was also reading Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian. The dissonance was, uh, interesting.

    As to Bond’s thinking about Pascal’s wager, Lewis had a different idea about it, seen in The Great Divorce. Lewis posits a heaven and hell with everyone starting out in a dreary place and getting on the bus to try to get to heaven, with most failing to move in the heavenly direction because they haven’t successfully confronted their failures in life. The story is a lot like the movie Groundhog Day. A much more interesting and fanciful read than MC and has a much more ecumenical feel.

  99. #100 Ick of the East
    August 27, 2007

    How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”; “That’s my seat, I was there first”; “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm”; “Why should you shove in first?”

    It’s funny how Lewis’ God broke every one of these ideals when he ordered his “Chosen People” to invade and take over the “Promised Land”.

    Do as I say, not as I do.

  100. #101 kevinj
    August 27, 2007

    i remember the narnia books as being vaguely readable. was this pile of crap written before or after?

    i guess if you count a religious experience as losing track of several hours and coming to feeling refreshed, almost as if you had drifted off to sleep, then those 3 pages works for me.
    but then again so did that shite email about id and ontology or something.

  101. #102 Lepht
    August 27, 2007

    “the random incomprehensible bullshit Christian prose generator”

    i work in the world’s most advanced university for knowledge technologies, natural language generation and languge-based AI… and i think i just found my next paper.

    Lepht

  102. #103 Lepht
    August 27, 2007

    goddamn it, language. it’s kind of ironic for me to typo that.

    L

  103. #104 John Morales
    August 27, 2007

    Woozy (#96), I appreciate your misgivings.

    I have not myself read the book but I presume there is a preface where C.S. Lewis expresses his intent, because a very quick search found this review, where it says:

    “Lewis concludes the “Preface” by saying that the he sees Christianity as a great house with a large hall. Different rooms leading off the hall are the different denominations. He said that he is not primarily concerned about which room Christians occupy, but he is concerned about getting them into the hall.”

  104. #105 Jim McDowell
    August 27, 2007

    Since there seemed to be a near-absence of Christian believers in this blogstring, which I discovered during some idlesurfing, let me register as a label-less disciple of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour. I don’t suppose Lewis’ MC makes a lot of difference to MY having faith, since I read him after coming to faith.

    My reasons for having faith have morphed a lot since I first believed in 1956, being convinced at that time that I was morally bankrupt and in need of a righteous Saviour. (I don’t deny that conviction even today, though I believe some non-Christians manage to live reasonably morally.) But God as first cause of existence and creative spirit in the universe’s evolutionary pathway have become quite vital concepts in my faith at the present time.

    For whatever reason Dr. Collins has embraced faith, I respect and value his conviction. For you who haven’t, I respect your conviction as well. I have learned that human beings are capable of quality of life without faith. Nevertheless in many years of reflective living, I have found compelling reasons to be and remain a disciple (learner/follower) of Jesus Christ.

  105. #106 Spooky
    August 27, 2007

    Aaron said,

    Ah, Lewis… funny thing, a Law of Nature that we all must follow, unless we don’t. “The Code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules…”

    And you have to be a pirate to have the rules apply! ;)

  106. #107 Mark
    August 27, 2007

    >I’m a Narnia fan, but this excerpt discourages me from ever reading his apologias.

    Ha ha — if you’ve read Narnia, you’ve already *read* his apologias.

  107. #108 bernarda
    August 27, 2007

    To confirm–if I dare say–your conversion, you can see “Expelled” with “The film confronts scientists such as Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, influential biologist and atheist blogger PZ Myers and Eugenie Scott, head of the National Center for Science Education.”

    Of course everything the producers did is on the up-and-up.

    “”The incredible thing about Expelled is that we don’t resort to manipulating our interviews for the purpose of achieving the ‘shock effect,’ something that has become common in documentary film these days,” said Walt Ruloff, co-founder of Premise Media and co-Executive Producer.”

    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-22-2007/0004649742&EDATE=

    From a press release.

  108. #109 Duane Tiemann
    August 27, 2007

    McDowell: Yup. Pretty much a godless bunch here. Gathered round the PZ like moths? Iron filings? Or some other mutual attraction.

    But all pretty much sharing the courage to seek the heart of matters. Largely willing to put aside cherished opinion upon encountering countering evidence. Though generally having done that some time ago.

    “reasons for having faith” is an interesting phrase. Oxymoronic on the surface. Faith is generally taken as something characterized as spurning reason.

    Somehow there are always reasons underlying faith, but they get lost in murk. It’s a worth while exercise to surface what they are. To be able to bring them to the surface, write them down. And let the sharks attack them if they can.

    e.g. Shared morality implies God. Looks like it is a Reason for Lewis. But the sharks show that shared morality is likely differently sourced. At the very least, the implication fails.

  109. #110 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Woozy You ask where are the numbers for the Anthropic principle?

    To answer yur question (What evidence is found for the universe’s ability to support life?) we will look at the universe and see how its “parts” are put together. Let’s start with carbon which is proven to be the “only” element, from the periodic table of elements, by which the complex molecules of life, in this universe, may be built. Carbon’s unique ability to form four stable bonds means it can form more molecular structures than any other atom. Carbon, the most valuable player in all known biological molecules, from sugar to DNA and even squid ink, is unique for its bonding versatility allows it to take on many forms: long side chains that make up fatty acids and cell membranes, ring structures that compose hormones and sugars and even simple gaseous molecules like methane (CH4) or carbon dioxide (CO2). The only element similar to carbon, which has the necessary atomic structure to form the macro (large) molecules needed for life, is silicon. Yet silicon, though having the correct atomic structure, is severely limited in its ability to make complex macro-molecules. Silicon-based molecules are comparatively unstable and sometimes highly reactive. Thus, from this and many other evidences against silicon, carbon is found to be the “only” element from which life in this universe may be built. Carbon and other “heavy” elements also dictate the universe must be as old and as large as it is. All elements heavier than helium did not form in the Big Bang. Thus, they had to be synthesized in stars and exploded into space before they were available to form a planet on which carbon-based life could exist. Sir Frederick Hoyle (1915-2001) is the scientist who discovered and established “nucleo-synthesis” of heavier elements as mathematically valid in 1946. When Sir Hoyle discovered the precision with which carbon is synthesized in stars he stated “a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics as well as with chemistry and biology.” What could make a scientist who was such a staunch atheist, as he was before his discoveries, make such a statement? The reason he made such a statement is because Sir Frederick Hoyle was expertly trained in the exacting standards of mathematics. He knew numbers cannot lie when correctly used and interpreted. What he found was a staggering numerical balance to the many independent universal constants needed to synthesize carbon in the stars. These independent constants were of such a high degree of precision as to leave no room for blind chance whatsoever. Naturalism presumes blind chance of natural laws is the ultimate cause for the entire universe coming to be in the first place. Thus, with no wiggle room for the blind chance of naturalism in the numerical values of the universal constants, which allows the precise synthesis of carbon in stars, Sir Frederick Hoyle had to admit the evidence he found was compelling to the proposition of intelligent design by a infinitely powerful Creator. Let’s look at some of these exacting mathematical standards to see the precision of “intelligent design” he saw in the foundational building blocks of universal constants.

    Proverbs 8:27
    “When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep”,

    The numerical values of the universal constants in physics that are found for gravity which holds planets, stars and galaxies together; for the weak nuclear force which holds neutrons together; for electromagnetism which allows chemical bonds to form; for the strong nuclear force which holds protons together; for the cosmological constant of space/energy density which accounts for the universe’s expansion; and for several dozen other constants (a total of 77 as of 2005) which are universal in their scope, “happen” to be the exact numerical values they need to be in order for life, as we know it, to be possible at all. A more than slight variance in the value of any individual universal constant, over the entire age of the universe, would have undermined the ability of the entire universe to have life as we know it. On and on through each universal constant scientists analyze, they find such unchanging precision from the universe’s creation. There are many web sites that give the complete list, as well as explanations, of each universal constant. Search under anthropic principle. One of the best web sites for this is found on Dr. Hugh Ross’s web site (reasonstobelieve.org). There are no apparent reasons why the value of each individual universal constant could not have been very different than what they actually are. In fact, the presumption of any naturalistic theory based on blind chance would have expected a fair amount of flexibility in any underlying natural laws for the universe. They “just so happen” to be at the precise unchanging values necessary to enable carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Some individual constants are of such a high degree of precision as to defy human comprehension. For example, the individual cosmological constant is balanced to 1 part in 1060 and The individual gravity constant is balanced to 1 part to 1040. Although 1 part in 1060 and 1 part in 1040 far exceeds any tolerances achieved in any manmade machines, according to the esteemed British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose (1931-present), the odds of one particular individual constant, the “original phase-space volume” constant required such precision that the “Creator’s aim must have been to an accuracy of 1 part in 1010^123″. If this number were written out in its entirety, 1 with 10123 zeros to the right, it could not be written on a piece of paper the size of the entire visible universe, EVEN IF a number were written down on each atomic particle in the entire universe, since the universe only has 1080 atomic particles in it. This staggering level of precision is exactly why many theoretical physicists have suggested the existence of a “super-calculating intellect” to account for this fine-tuning. This is precisely why the anthropic hypothesis has gained such a strong foothold in many scientific circles. American geneticist Robert Griffiths jokingly remarked about these recent developments “If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use anymore.” The only other theory possible for the universe’s creation, other than a God-centered hypothesis, is a naturalistic theory based on blind chance. Naturalistic blind chance only escapes being completely crushed, by the overwhelming evidence for design, by appealing to an infinite number of other “un-testable” universes in which all other possibilities have been played out. Naturalism also tries to find a place for blind chance to hide by proposing a universe that expands and contracts (recycles) infinitely. Yet there is no hard physical evidence to support either of these blind chance conjectures. In fact, the “infinite universes” conjecture suffers from some serious flaws of logic. For instance, exactly which laws of physics are telling all the other natural laws in physics what, how and when to do the many precise unchanging things they do in these other universes? Plus, if an infinite number of other possible universes exist then why is it not also infinitely possible for God to exist? As well, the “recycling universe” conjecture suffers so many questions from the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) as to render it effectively implausible as a serious theory. The only hard evidence there is, the stunning precision found in the universal constants, points overwhelmingly to intelligent design by an infinitely powerful and transcendent Creator who originally established what the unchanging universal constants of physics could and would do at the creation of the universe. The hard evidence left no room for the blind chance of natural laws in this universe. Thus, naturalism was forced into appealing to an infinity of other “un-testable” universes for it was left with no footing in this universe. These developments in science make it seem like naturalism was cast into the abyss of nothingness so far as explaining the fine-tuning of the universe.

    Proverbs 8:29-30
    “When He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;”

    Job 38:4-7
    “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

  110. #111 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    PZ:

    “…who inflicted this dreadful interview on me. It didn’t seem to work on me, but maybe I’m just too steeped in narrow-minded evil.”

    well, I did listen to the interview, and I must say, if you are, like me, in the “still undecided camp”, I did find it very interesting.

    What I mean with “still undecided camp” are people who are quite convinced that a naturalistic worldview must, through a creative blend of the humanities and science, lead to an ultimately more fulfiling life. But they are also people who are still wondering if this naturalistic worldview excludes a rational basis for faith.

    Also, I may add, in the “still undecided camp” are people who refuse categorically to be told what to believe. They want to arrive to their own conclusions through a process of learning and listening to what, allegedly, more knowledgeable people, such as PZ Myers AND Francis Collins have to say.

    PZ, thank you for sharing this interview.

  111. #112 True Bob
    August 27, 2007

    Thanks for the fishy info. One awesome and dangerous looking fish. I’m more of a cichlid fan than a characin lover, so I learned something today.

    Bond, you need to learn to break your writing into paragraphs. As if that would make it more readable.

  112. #113 David Marjanovi?
    August 27, 2007

    Ever read that piece of dreck? I have, out of morbid curiosity. That was actually one of the better “arguments” in it, believe it or not.

    Thought so, but I’ve never read it.

    (The hands-down worst being “lunatic, liar or Lord”, one of the dumbest things ever committed to print.)

    I’d like to know who came up with the “lunatic, liar or Jedi” response (proving that Luke Skywalker was a Jedi).

    ————————-

    Don’t go in the water.

    Bah. Piranhas have cutting teeth.

    ————————

    Sigh. One of my pet peeves is the persistant belief that “Pascal’s Wager” was a theological argument using mathematics. It wasn’t. It was a mathematical argument using a theology as an example. Probability and gaming theory

    Oh! I had no idea! Unfortunately, however, plenty of people do use it as a theological argument, most notably our double-0 agent here.

    ————————-

    C.S. Lewis also says “all men love to drink beer and hate”. So how ’bout it guys– is that true

    Beer stinks, and it tastes horrible. (But them, I’m not exactly a True Scotsman.)

  113. #114 David Marjanovi?
    August 27, 2007

    Ever read that piece of dreck? I have, out of morbid curiosity. That was actually one of the better “arguments” in it, believe it or not.

    Thought so, but I’ve never read it.

    (The hands-down worst being “lunatic, liar or Lord”, one of the dumbest things ever committed to print.)

    I’d like to know who came up with the “lunatic, liar or Jedi” response (proving that Luke Skywalker was a Jedi).

    ————————-

    Don’t go in the water.

    Bah. Piranhas have cutting teeth.

    ————————

    Sigh. One of my pet peeves is the persistant belief that “Pascal’s Wager” was a theological argument using mathematics. It wasn’t. It was a mathematical argument using a theology as an example. Probability and gaming theory

    Oh! I had no idea! Unfortunately, however, plenty of people do use it as a theological argument, most notably our double-0 agent here.

    ————————-

    C.S. Lewis also says “all men love to drink beer and hate”. So how ’bout it guys– is that true

    Beer stinks, and it tastes horrible. (But them, I’m not exactly a True Scotsman.)

  114. #115 David Marjanovi?
    August 27, 2007

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    Untrue.

    See what happens when you argue from ignorance instead of from knowledge?

  115. #116 David Marjanovi?
    August 27, 2007

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    Untrue.

    See what happens when you argue from ignorance instead of from knowledge?

  116. #117 Duane Tiemann
    August 27, 2007

    The universe was constructed? Wow! Could be, I suppose. If it can happen in Star Trek (holodeck), I don’t know why it couldn’t happen to us. How would we know we’re holodeck players? The holodeck programmer probably would have constructed us to not perceive the evidence.

    That’s not a mainstream view, BTW. Most scientists wouldn’t agree. But still it’s possible. There’s a holodeck programmer and we’re His creations.

    And I suppose a holodeck programmer could interact with, impregnate, etc. Leaving no trace, but the precision of His work.

    But, even so, one is left wondering if a holodeck programmer deserves the reverence of a god. And, of course, one wonders what technology the programmer employs. Carbon based, perhaps? Where would such technology have come from? Who made God? Surely there was precision in that as well.

    At base, science does have unanswered origin questions, but I doubt this line of thinking helps.

  117. #118 David Marjanovi?
    August 27, 2007

    So, honestly, what is Lewis (and for that matter intelligent Christians in general) trying to *say*?

    You presume that Lewis himself understands exactly what he is trying to say. I submit you’re wrong.

  118. #119 David Marjanovi?
    August 27, 2007

    So, honestly, what is Lewis (and for that matter intelligent Christians in general) trying to *say*?

    You presume that Lewis himself understands exactly what he is trying to say. I submit you’re wrong.

  119. #120 John Scanlon, FCD
    August 27, 2007

    Just noticed this ‘Random Quote’ in the sidebar:

    Over the years I realized the god I prayed to was the god I invented. When I was talking to him, I was talking to myself. He had no understanding or qualities that I did not have. When I realized god was an extension of my imagination, I stopped praying to him.

    And I had to check the source – [Howard Kreisner, host of "The American Atheist Hour"] – because I thought PZ was already mining the Dark Letters of Mother Teresa.
    “No faith” she moans, “No prayer” – i.e. she was apparently, really deep down, as much an atheist as any of us but pretended for most of her insufferably long life. CS Lewis looks like just such a pretender except with less self-awareness; whether he believed anything he professed is questionable, and just as irrelevant as in MT’s case: I don’t know which of them did more damage. (Not that either hurt me, unless reading all the Narnia books so many times actually rotted my brain)

  120. #121 John Scanlon, FCD
    August 27, 2007

    …and obviously I posted #116 before even reading as far as comment #5. I did also read the Ransom books a couple of times (Out of the Silent Planet etc.) and enjoyed them the first time, when I was 11. How Tolkien put up with him… well, Tolkien was a guy ALL of whose friends were killed in WWI, and I suppose he’d put up with anyone who could hold a half-decent conversation in Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse, even if he was an insufferable, insincere, pompous, pious, fetishist who asserted, when challenged, that cigarette ash was good for carpets.

  121. #122 Julian
    August 27, 2007

    Meh, I’ve read Lewis’ arguments for belief before and, as weak as they are, I’ve never really denigrated him for it. He loved his wife, she died, and he decided to believe in her religion for her sake. No rational argument made the man a Catholic; sadness did. He wasn’t the first intelligent human to turn to christianity’s reunion fantasy out of sorrow and intense longing, and he most certainly wasn’t the last. If anything, the torturous loops he spent the rest of his life leaping through to keep his hope of being with her again alive shows just how insidious and corruptive our “religion of love” is. The death cultists do violence to reality because their dogmas demand it.

  122. #123 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    It does strike me that, with a similar amount of information about the past, different knowledgeable and intelligent people (ie PZ and Collins) arrive at completely different conlusions about what caused the past to evolve that way.
    Why ?

  123. #124 PZ Myers
    August 27, 2007

    Isn’t it obvious? As we can see from Collins’ claim that that insipid nonsense from CS Lewis was sufficient to demolish his atheism, he’s not telling the whole truth: he’s carrying around a whole lot of unstated baggage that had to have been far more influential than that tripe. The only other way you could be persuaded by Lewis is if you are extraordinarily stupid, and I don’t honestly believe that Collins is quite that idiotic.

    Something in his background or personality primed him to accept religious dogma, just as something in my background or personality primed me to reject it. The only difference is that I’m not the one now parading around, proud of my belief in some extraordinarily silly old superstitions.

  124. #125 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    I mean, after a few months of reading Pharyngula and various other sources, I feel like I have succesfully de-brainwashed myself from all my theistic prejudices, but then it suffices that I listen to this Collins interview and I am back thinking, what if he were right ? What if there was a rational basis for faith ?
    You guys are lucky, you have made your decision and are not anymore caught in this oscillation.
    But please understand that it is not always that easy for everybody.

  125. #126 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    PZ you state: The only difference is that I’m not the one now parading around, proud of my belief in some extraordinarily silly old superstitions.
    I beg to differ you faith in materialism producing the order we find in the universe is way more irrational that Collins faith in One who imposed order on the universe.

  126. #127 Blake Stacey
    August 27, 2007

    I keep waiting for a Bond villain — or a particularly irked Bond girl — to say, “Double-oh-seven. Is that your ID number, or your IQ?”

  127. #128 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    The cognitive psychologist Bernard Baars likens consciousness to a global blackboard on which brain processes post their results and monitor the results of the others. So, tu use the blackboard metaphor, does it mean that faith is just a product of a different blackboard ?
    PZ is your blackboard different than Collins’ or is there really one with a malfunctioning blackboard ?

  128. #129 jeff
    August 27, 2007

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    Untrue.

    Smolin’s theory is a multiverse theory, and anthropic reasoning (selection effects) does indeed require a multiverse of some sort or another. but not necessarily an infinite number of them.

  129. #130 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    The fine tuning of the parameters is not in my view, the real question. I can imagine that one day, science will arrive at a fully integrated theory of the past, and will have succesfully reduced the degrees of freedom to one unique parameter (one being the minimum). I can imagine that one day, science will fully explain abiogenesis.
    In essence, I can imagine that one day, we will be able to recreate a universe and even increase the probability of intelligent life in that universe, or even make it happen faster than what was required in our own.
    But doesn’t that mean that in essence, we will have become Gods for that new universe ?
    Because there is a small cosmological constant, our ultimate fate is already programmed. Whatever happens, the universe we live in will be ripped apart. And maybe our only chance of survival, what we have been programmed for, is to eventually create such a universe.

    … I must have smoked too much today…

  130. #131 Blondin
    August 27, 2007

    That CBC Tapestry show was a summer rerun. I heard it both times because I always have CBC on in my workshop. I enjoy most of what I hear on the CBC but I have a special kind of love-hate relationship with Tapestry and its host, Mary Hines. I just love to hate that show. The syrup-sweet fawning over every wise utterance by holier-than-thou guests is enough to make you puke but for some reason I just can’t switch it off. I talk back, curse, blaspheme, argue and occasionally guffaw at the nonsensical bullshit coming from her guests but church-lady sweet Mary Hines just gushes on like some kind of fawning groupie.

    To be fair she does occasionally have the odd guest like John Shelby Spong or Sam Harris (with whom she was much more curt) but she always gets the last word because she gets to pick the listener responses that will be read on the next show.

    I probably should just change the station when Tapestry comes on (listening to smug arseholes doesn’t do my blood pressure any good) but there’s some weird kind of fascination like driving past an accident and trying not to look.

  131. #132 MS
    August 27, 2007

    When I was a budding teenage skeptic, several people, including my parents and our minister, suggested that I read Lewis. They obviously expected me to be overwhelmed by his arguments and immediately return to the fold. I dutifully read Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and The Screwtape Letters. I remember very clearly thinking, if this is the best they’ve got, then they’re in even worse trouble than I had realized. There’s not a single argument in either of the first two books that a reasonably intelligent 17-year-old can’t demolish. That “lord, liar, or lunatic” thing is just too dumb for words

    I honestly can’t believe reading Lewis would convert someone who wasn’t a closet believer already, and just looking for some backup (“See, C.S. Lewis was a smart man, a professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and he believes”).

    The Screwtape Letters does contain some wry and amusing observations about the human condition (I especially liked his comments on the nature of gluttony), but doesn’t really make an argument for Christianity; it’s really aimed at the already-converted.

  132. #133 Fragano Ledgister
    August 27, 2007

    For me it was different. Mere Christianity never impressed me, in part because when I read it at 13 I didn’t understand all the arguments (and the issues). I had, however, already read the Bible and discovered that it was a complex collection of stories and rules, many of which made no sense (why should a woman be unclean twice as long if she gives birth to a girl than if she gives birth to a boy?). I find that knowledge of the Bible is probably the thing most likely to end Christian faith. I wonder why.

  133. #134 Iain Walker
    August 27, 2007

    re Comment #109 by Bond, James Bond:

    Sir Hoyle

    A very minor point of etiquette, but there’s no such term of address. It’s always Sir [Forename], or Sir [Forename Surname], never Sir [Surname].

    These independent constants were of such a high degree of precision as to leave no room for blind chance whatsoever.

    Highly improbable events occur all the time due to “blind chance”. If I deal a well-shuffled deck of cards, then the odds of occurrence of the actual sequence in which I deal them is 1 in 8×10^67. Does that mean that an Intelligent Cardshark manipulated the cards to get that result? Of course not. These are the odds of any sequence of cards dealt from a randomly shuffled deck. Similarly, if any combination of physical constants is equally improbable, then the set our universe ended up with is no less improbable than any other outcome. The fact that we’re here discussing the matter shows only that the actual outcome was sufficient to allow the emergence of intelligent life. It doesn’t show that the outcome wasn’t random or that it was manipulated to this end, because it’s no more significant probability-wise than any other possible outcome.

    In short, you’re just indulging in the retrospective fallacy of assuming that the actual outcome is significant just because it was the one that happened to obtain.

    Naturalism presumes blind chance of natural laws is the ultimate cause for the entire universe coming to be in the first place

    Untrue. Naturalism assumes that whatever explanation there might be for the apparent “fine-tuning” of the universe, then that explanation is a natural one. Sheer randomness is just one possible explanation among many.

    Plus, if an infinite number of other possible universes exist then why is it not also infinitely possible for God to exist?

    A whopping non sequitur. An infinite number of universes with a freely varying range of values for their physical constants makes the probablity of a least one such universe having constants which allow the emergence of intelligent life equal to one. In fact, it makes the probability that any logically possible state of affairs obtains in some universe or other equal to one. If the existence of a god is a logically possible state of affairs, then all that follows is that at least one universe contains a god. It does not follow that any gods exist in this universe.

    Of course, one is assuming here that gods are things which exist within universes (and indeed, that their existence is related to the values of the various physical constants). I assume that you’d probably reject such a premise, but in that case there’s no logical connection between the number of universes and the probability that God exists.

    One wonders if you’re muddling up the idea of an infinite multiverse with the notion of possible worlds utilised in modal logic, specifically Plantinga’s modal version of the ontological argument (which even Plantinga admits isn’t necessarily very compelling)?

  134. #135 MartinM
    August 27, 2007

    The fine-tuning argument is a non-starter. It’s just another ‘explain this, or we win by default!’ line. An omnipotent being could create at least as wide a range of Universes as any multiverse model; indeed, almost certainly more. Therefore the God hypothesis suffers from a fine-tuning problem at least as great as any real model. Worse still, whatever selection criteria God uses to pick out this Universe from the set of possibilities must closely mirror what anthropic selection generates for free in a multiverse model.

    Parsimony rarely favours magic.

  135. #136 makita
    August 27, 2007

    Mr 007,
    Maybe you can explain why, in your opinion, Collins’ faith in “One who imposed order over the universe” is so rational. If just reading a few pages out of someone else’s book changes you from being an atheist to being a christian, you must be incredibly weak, in need of a god to supervise your actions, when a police officer standing by your side at all times may be equally effective. To me that means, Collins was not an atheist before he read the book. By the way, what happened to the story of Collins seeing a frozen waterfall and falling to his knees and accepting that of all the religions to choose from, christianity was the only compatible with the fantastic sight? This guy needs to get his re-birthing stories straight.

  136. #137 Jim McDowell
    August 27, 2007

    Duane #108, thanks for nodding to me, the #104 guy.

    A coffee or a pint on me so we could get together to table my reasons for trusting in Jesus Christ and therefore in the one he called and taught us to call Father.

    While reasons imply rationality (as you rightly suggest), I find at this stage in life that they must also imply relationality. In this bigger picture, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, especially as the role of the amazing human spirit throughout recorded history is factored in. It’s the excess in the whole (over the sum of the parts) that, somewhat like dark matter, makes sense of lots of things, including evolutionary data.

    While I’m not holding a candle for C S Lewis, I do need to point out to Julian #118 that CS’ faith was as much shaped by finding joy (Surprised by Joy) as by the sorrow of losing his Joy (wife). I believe the joy Lewis was surprised by refers somehow to the images of the excess in the whole (or the dark matter) I invoked a moment ago.

    Being new to the forum I may be wrong in suspecting that the sharks Duane refers to sport a rather reductionist epistemology. Till I learn otherwise, simply registering my conviction that Christ is authentically divine and authentically human, and a worthy object for my commitment–that’s probably my preferred extent in religious self-exposure in this blogsite.

  137. #138 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    Fragano,

    you might be right, but don’t forget one thing, the bible has one big advantage, it’s easy.
    I mean, most people go to school for many years but ask around you, people who have left school let’s say, more than 10 years ago :
    - how many can calculate 1/2 + 1/3 ?
    - how many know what is the 2nd law of thermodynamics ?
    - how many can tell the difference between a gene, a genome, and a chromosome ?

    I did the test standing outside a supermarket one afternoon, just those 3 questions. The results are scary.

  138. #139 reason
    August 27, 2007

    As far as I can tell the anthropic principle is just another argument from ignorance. Lets face it, we do not know if the observed values of universal CAN have any values, and if so what distributions they follow, or what the relationships between them could be. (Nor can we know if there couldn’t be an alternative chemistry in an alternative universe). We have no idea how the universe came to be (although we do know some things about its history). We don’t even know for sure whether all the fundamental constants are really constant.

    We do know we exist. And can with limited perceptive apparatus can explore our surroundings. That is interesting enough, metaphysical speculation is just a rather pointless intellectual game. The likelihood that it has any relation to ancient religions however is also clearly extraordinarily slim.

  139. #140 Kristine
    August 27, 2007

    If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own.

    What a naive statement! Lewis is no religious scholar. These cultures that he mentions did not have the sense of shame and horror at our bodies and sexuality that the Judeo-Christian-Islamic world does. They had no sense of “original sin” and thus “salvation” as we understand it. This is another example of Christians thinking that other religions are simply a different flavor of Christianity, and that pisses me off.

    For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.

    Uh, no. People are ascribing their innate goodness or talent to God more and more. It’s as tiresome as people reacting with horror to their own natural desires and weeping over their “sins.”

  140. #141 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    Reason,

    a few hundred years ago, people were looking at the night sky and thinking, god is moving all those little dots. Most people felt is was metaphysical to try to understand why it was like that, but some people didn’t.
    Thank God (!) there were people such as Galileo, Kepler and Newton who ventured into the unknown and made sense of it.

    Today, one can look at the fundamental constants of nature and think, like you, that it is metaphysical speculation to try to explain it. I don’t. Because history shows that it’s each time that we have ventured into the unknown that we have dicovered fundamental things about nature.

  141. #142 Max Udargo
    August 27, 2007

    It’s funny how Lewis’ God broke every one of these ideals when he ordered his “Chosen People” to invade and take over the “Promised Land”.

    Heh. Now that’s a damn good point.

  142. #143 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Woozy asked “why is it not also infinitely possible that God does not exist?”
    What you are really asking “Why is it not infinitely possible for non-existence to exist?” And yes it is infinitely possible for non-existence to exist and yes non-existence does exist . Yet we are dealing with an existence in the midst of a non-existence. When asking why an existence of a reality is within a non existence logic requires the existence to have a eternal presence in the non-existence. It is absurd for existence to come from non-existence. When a existence has a cause, such as our universe does, it is required that that existence (our universe) come from another existence that already exists in the non-existence,, ad infinitum ,, until you finally reach the primary existence that has always existed, or what is called the uncaused cause of all existence within the non-existence. This uncaused cause of existence will possess all primary attributes that are in existence and no new primary attributes can be created or exceed that which the primary cause did not possess in the first place.

  143. #144 llewelly
    August 27, 2007

    But doesn’t that mean that in essence, we will have become Gods for that new universe ?

    The halting problem would prevent us from being all-knowing.

  144. #145 woozy
    August 27, 2007

    If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own.

    What a naive statement! Lewis is no religious scholar. These cultures that he mentions did not have the sense of shame and horror …
    Jeez! I’m going to have to read these things more carefully! This (Lewis’; not Kristine’s) statement is soooo false that I assumed Lewis was purposely limiting his view to 1950′s England. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit in my reluctance to rip him down.

    Lewis’ examples of “Natural Law” (“How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” – “That’s my seat, I was there first” – “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” – “Why should you shove in first?” – “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine” – “Come on, you promised.” ) are for the most part based on an idea of “fairness” or empathy which assumes a fundamental belief in equality which few of these cultures had.

  145. #146 llewelly
    August 27, 2007

    The content of post #139 implies the troll has gone to lunch, and left a vapid-nonsense-generating bot to watch the blog.

  146. #147 negentropyeater
    August 27, 2007

    llewelly, pardon my ignorance, what is the “halting problem” ?

  147. #148 True Bob
    August 27, 2007

    llewelly #142

    Let’s call it the “blatherbot”

  148. #149 Andrew
    August 27, 2007

    Bond: your “anthropic principles” argument is very weird.

    Imagine, if you will, if the facts of the universe were *exactly the opposite* of what we presently observe; that is, that virtually the entire universe was habitable. Picture a universe in which the whole of it is a few thousand miles across, in which outer space is oxygen-rich and breathable by humans, other planets are all earthlike and capable of sustaining life, and the ‘stars’ are tiny bits of fire off in the distance, fixed in the heavens and useful only for navigation and observation here on earth. Everywhere we would look, we would discover evidence that the universe was uniquely and specifically designed just for us.

    Now, if that were so, wouldn’t that be a pretty good argument for the God of the Bible?

    If so, then I fail to see how the exact OPPOSITE conditions — namely, a universe that is 99.99999999999999999999% inhospitable and under which complex Earthlike life is incredibly rare — is any kind of sensible argument for God at all.

  149. #150 Iain Walker
    August 27, 2007

    re Comment #139:

    And yes it is infinitely possible for non-existence to exist and yes non-existence does exist. Yet we are dealing with an existence in the midst of a non-existence. When asking why an existence of a reality is within a non existence logic requires the existence to have a eternal presence in the non-existence.

    Ah, the traditional category mistake of treating the terms “existence” and “non-existence” as if they refered to things. Newsflash, Mr Bond – they don’t. One can say that it is true that some things exist and that some things do not exist, but to speak of “existence” and “non-existence” existing is just meaningless.

    Please let us known when you have a coherent argument to make, instead of word-salad.

  150. #151 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Andrew you state;
    If so, then I fail to see how the exact OPPOSITE conditions — namely, a universe that is 99.99999999999999999999% inhospitable and under which complex Earthlike life is incredibly rare — is any kind of sensible argument for God at all.

    Yet The fact that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to host complex life in this universe, lines up extremely well with the anthropic postulation of the Theistic hypothesis. That is that this universe was created by God for the distinct purpose of Him creating a creature set apart from all the rest of His creations. In other words it lines up with the view that God created this universe specifically for Him to create “children unto Himself” If you notice when the earth was removed from “the center on the universe” this created quite a stir in religious circles. Yet now that the earth is seemingly once again “the center on the universe” you are trying to use it to disprove the specialness of our creation!

  151. #152 Ken Cope
    August 27, 2007

    Martin Gardner, years ago in the New York Times, examined the various flavors of Anthropic Principles, the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP), the Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP), and the Final Anthropic Principle (FAP). His conclusion was that what they had in common should be described as the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP).

    Ankle-deep in Douglas Adams’ sentient puddle, certain that the concavity in which it ripples must have been created specifically for it, Bond, James Bond wouldn’t be phazed by reason even if shaken, not stirred. If this thread goes on long enough, we’ll have the complete set of assinine apologetics promoted by theists too thick to follow the arguments, equipped only to cut and paste them. We’ve seen them all before; they’re rubbish.

  152. #153 woozy
    August 27, 2007

    Woozy asked “why is it not also infinitely possible that God does not exist?”
    What you are really asking “Why is it not infinitely possible for non-existence to exist?”

    No. What I was asking was your tacit assumption that a god existing in some of the universes implies varification in any meaningful way that “God Exists”. It is as though existence somewhere trumps non-existence anywhere. I was challenging that assumption.

    Again your argument, which is mathematically faulty, would equally apply (which is to say it wouldn’t apply) to Satan, Superman, Black Swans, and Quizquegil, a supernatural being I just made up but who is bigger and stronger than your God and can beat your God to an ectoplasmatic pulp.

    Yet we are dealing with an existence in the midst of a non-existence. When asking why an existence of a reality is within a non existence logic requires the existence to have a eternal presence in the non-existence.

    No, intuition, limited vision, and ambiguous semantics makes one say such things that have no inherant meaning.

    It is absurd for existence to come from non-existence.

    Counter-intuitive. Bizaar. Probably impossible. But not absurd.

    When a existence has a cause, such as our universe does,

    Does it? How do you know? Why do you assume it has a cause? What the *heck* does “cause” mean in this case?

    it is required that that existence (our universe) come from another existence that already exists in the non-existence,, ad infinitum ,, until you finally reach the primary existence that has always existed, or what is called the uncaused cause of all existence within the non-existence.

    Which is even more “absurd” than existence coming from non-existence.

    BTW, “ad infinitum” by DEFINITION makes “until” contradictory. You (and I) are being sucked down into a bog of inadequate language. You, however, are assigning inappropriate meaning and conclussions on the basis of what language we have available.

    This uncaused cause of existence will possess all primary attributes that are in existence and no new primary attributes can be created or exceed that which the primary cause did not possess in the first place.

    Nonsense. If first cause was a match, a stone, and a source of oxygen then heat isn’t primary attribute.

    If anything, you are arguing against the existance of God as God has so many *more* attributes than the existant universe which has, by your reasoning, the exact same attributes as the first cause. God having *more* attributes then the primary uncaused cause could not arise from the first cause but everything came from the first cause. Ergo, God doesn’t exist.

    (See, atheists can spout nonsense and tortured logic too!)

    As well as nonsense, I fail to see the relevence. We are discussing the existence of God, or hot dogs or the yeti or the wizard of Oz, in terms of rolling dice. You are making the invalid assumption that the probability of God, or hot dogs or the yeti or the wizard of Oz, is finite and non-zero and precise. Then you are making the invalid assumption that we have an infinite number of rolls. Then you are assuming rolling a God roll on the five billionth and twenty-seventh roll means that you also rolled a God roll on your first roll.

  153. #154 Warren
    August 27, 2007

    As others have pointed out, it seems Collins is spiritually schizophrenic. Waterfalls or Lewis, or maybe it was an accidental mouthful of psylocibin on some other camping trip; but in any case it’s obvious his capacity for rational process is not merely compromised, but actually tragically circumvented.

  154. #155 Reginald Selkirk
    August 27, 2007

    Martin Gardner, years ago in the New York Times, examined the various flavors of Anthropic Principles, the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP), the Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP), and the Final Anthropic Principle (FAP). His conclusion was that what they had in common should be described as the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP).

    Gardner referred to himself as a “philosophical theist,”* but had the decency and intellectual integrity to acknowledge that he did not have any arguments that an atheist would or should find convincing. Bravo to that.

    See The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.

  155. #156 bybelknap, FCD
    August 27, 2007

    Many many people throughout history have enjoyed ice cream. It is an almost universal phenomenon that people of various cultures have taken sugar, milk, cream and flavorful things and mixed them together into a cold confection which most agree is quite delicious. That is not to dismiss, out of hand, those that forgot just how tempting and delcious a lovely cone of plain vanilla topped with rainbow sprinkles can be. We know that they know deep in their hearts the truth of the goodness of ice cream. It is no mere shame that we had to kill them in great numbers because they forgot the golden yumminess rule. No, nor does it suggest that there are not the lactose intolerant (or even the lactose belligerent!) among us who are unable to enjoy a good bowl of mint chocolate chip or a peppermint stick hot fudge sundae because of a digestive flaw. But the fact remains, Icecream IS delicious. Everyone knows it. Therefore, God exists in the form of a holy trinity of Milk Sugar and Cream, oh and ice of course, it has to be cooled somehow, so it’s a Holy Fournity – A Quaternity of Ice, cream, sugar and milk. Just work with me here, I know I have a point somewhere!

  156. #157 Andrew
    August 27, 2007

    Bond:

    No, what I’m saying is that if your argument would be equally, if not better, supported if the facts were COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE, then you aren’t really making an argument.

  157. #158 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    I don’t see any true case for what makes the P’sW not relevant.

    In real life we don’t chase after every remote instance of “might be” or improbable risk, because we are fully occupied with living.

    A more abstract reason would be that we use cutoffs for probabilities in science and technology as well. For the same reason, we want proven theories and strong signals.

    That likely needs a multiverse etc., but such ideas are prevalent in physics in limited form (string theory Landscape) and in more eye-popping omnifarious form in modal realism.

    Multiverses are possible already in semiclassical cosmologies such as eternal inflation scenarios. And to nitpick this, modal realism is a philosophical idea and has no physical meaning. (I.e. every philosophically possible universe is not automatically physically possible.)

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of why these models comes up. They are natural consequences of many physical models which aren’t completely constrained. Completely constraints in a TOE is on the other assumption of beauty and not something that physics have forced onto us yet.

    So theoretical scientists consider these not because they want to (most are kicking and screaming) but beacuse the physics lead them there.

    It is also a good tool to analyze how peoples, mostly creationists, conflation of a priori probabilities and a posteriori likelihoods lead them to believe that finetunings are unnatural. In reality finetunings may be unnatural for a specific model seen over its parameters or a priori improbable for a specific outcome, but are natural and a posteriori likely in a cosmological setting seen over all possible outcomes.

  158. #159 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    I don’t see any true case for what makes the P’sW not relevant.

    In real life we don’t chase after every remote instance of “might be” or improbable risk, because we are fully occupied with living.

    A more abstract reason would be that we use cutoffs for probabilities in science and technology as well. For the same reason, we want proven theories and strong signals.

    That likely needs a multiverse etc., but such ideas are prevalent in physics in limited form (string theory Landscape) and in more eye-popping omnifarious form in modal realism.

    Multiverses are possible already in semiclassical cosmologies such as eternal inflation scenarios. And to nitpick this, modal realism is a philosophical idea and has no physical meaning. (I.e. every philosophically possible universe is not automatically physically possible.)

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of why these models comes up. They are natural consequences of many physical models which aren’t completely constrained. Completely constraints in a TOE is on the other assumption of beauty and not something that physics have forced onto us yet.

    So theoretical scientists consider these not because they want to (most are kicking and screaming) but beacuse the physics lead them there.

    It is also a good tool to analyze how peoples, mostly creationists, conflation of a priori probabilities and a posteriori likelihoods lead them to believe that finetunings are unnatural. In reality finetunings may be unnatural for a specific model seen over its parameters or a priori improbable for a specific outcome, but are natural and a posteriori likely in a cosmological setting seen over all possible outcomes.

  159. #160 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    Neil B:

    Multiverses are nice toys with possible physical relevance. So I’m always happy when people take them out for a spin:

    if you can believe that a computer program does not “die” just because the machine it ran on is gone, then your mind maybe could “run” again somewhere else.

    Hmm. Perhaps you mean that we are, or could be randomly repeated, as a twin, simulation or quantum fluctuation in a sufficiently large universe or multiverse.

    That would be true, but as for Pascal’s wager we can’t realistically concern ourselves with unproven or small possibilities in practice.

    Hey, you can’t really deny the argument in MR that there really is no logically rigorous way to define “existing” in a material sense versus logical description of so-called platonic model worlds.

    Is this referring to Tegmark’s argument by any chance? All he does is IIRC to point out that it is more elegant to equate physical reality with the formal model. But existence or realism is conveniently defined by repeatable observations of phenomena.

    How to proceed from there is unclear, at least for me. Since models can be isomorphic or equivalent by dualities, what do you mean by a “platonic model world”? Similarly, the number of particles and the energy content we observe in the vacuum depends on if we are comoving or accelerating. Neither observations nor models are unambiguous, they are just robust as the underlying phenomena is.

  160. #161 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    Neil B:

    Multiverses are nice toys with possible physical relevance. So I’m always happy when people take them out for a spin:

    if you can believe that a computer program does not “die” just because the machine it ran on is gone, then your mind maybe could “run” again somewhere else.

    Hmm. Perhaps you mean that we are, or could be randomly repeated, as a twin, simulation or quantum fluctuation in a sufficiently large universe or multiverse.

    That would be true, but as for Pascal’s wager we can’t realistically concern ourselves with unproven or small possibilities in practice.

    Hey, you can’t really deny the argument in MR that there really is no logically rigorous way to define “existing” in a material sense versus logical description of so-called platonic model worlds.

    Is this referring to Tegmark’s argument by any chance? All he does is IIRC to point out that it is more elegant to equate physical reality with the formal model. But existence or realism is conveniently defined by repeatable observations of phenomena.

    How to proceed from there is unclear, at least for me. Since models can be isomorphic or equivalent by dualities, what do you mean by a “platonic model world”? Similarly, the number of particles and the energy content we observe in the vacuum depends on if we are comoving or accelerating. Neither observations nor models are unambiguous, they are just robust as the underlying phenomena is.

  161. #162 Inky
    August 27, 2007

    Jim McDowell:

    Please tell me what your compelling reasons are.

    I grew up in a very devout Christian family, with very devout Christian relatives, including a minister, and have attended countless retreats and such. Somewhere in my stored boxes of old books I never read anymore are _Mere Christianity_, _The Screwtape Letters_, and I think another Lewis book that I never even opened, as well as Josh McDowell’s (a relation of yours?) _More Than a Carpenter_. I’ve also read a couple of books dealing more with the historical Jesus (those books were far more enjoyable than any of the others listed above). I have spent years trying to align my non-Christian frame of mind to that of my entire family. I have a few very devout friends which whom I had had countless theological discussions with.

    I have yet to find a compelling reason.

  162. #163 Bunjo
    August 27, 2007

    I’m reading “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathon Haidt at the moment – it is a really thought provoking book.

    Amongst the many gems he points out that: “We take a position, look for evidence that supports it, and if we find some evidence – enough so that our position “makes sense” – we stop thinking.”

    Also: “Over and over again, studies show that people set out on a cognitive mission to bring back reasons to support their preferred belief or action.”

    This suggests that if you are inclined to believe in a god, then weak apologetics or frozen waterfalls may be enough… of course this lack of rigour also applies to people justifying atheism or abortion or capital punishment.

    I would also point out that many people who profess to be Christian are actually christians (small ‘c’). They know the broad concepts and the mumbo jumbo, but they still practice piling up wordly treasure, retaliation for assaults/insults, and loving one’s kin….

    Funny old world.

  163. #164 Sabrina
    August 27, 2007

    I’ll be honest, when I found out as a teen that my beloved Narnia series was written by an active Christian and was thoroughly infused with biblical references, I refused to touch or acknowledge the books for a few years.

    But now, after having run a gamut of philosophy (and teaching Cliff’s Notes versions to high school debaters), I find myself appreciating Lewis’ approach in Mere Christianity (at least the first chapter or two) as an attempt to rationally and constructively discuss his ideas (he actually strips the positive connotations from “Christian” and returns it to its literal definition – following the teachings of Jesus Christ). I don’t see much difference between that and reading of St. Thomas Aquinas’ theories and appreciating them as an example of critical thinking that was pretty good for its time and social context while also recognizing inherent flaws or disagreements with the material. I would love to have more people like Lewis involved in discussions of religion today rather than the rabid fundies who plague us and prey on the ignorant.

    Now, as far as Collins goes, anyone who converts after reading any one work clearly failed their Wisdom save and has very little in the way of personal moral identity to start with.

    (And Narnia is back on my “good reading” list, because it is a good read)

  164. #165 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    David Marjanovi?:

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    Untrue.

    In all fairness, while neither the original multiverse scenario nor cosmological selection requires an infinite number of universes, cosmological natural selection isn’t at the time a realistic proposal. (Smolin’s original idea of black holes doesn’t seem to work, at least with todays theories.)

    There is another mechanism that also invalidates Bond’s claim, improbable but in an eternal universe unavoidable spontaneous tunneling from our false vacuum to negative vacuum energy creating those famous de Sitter bubbles. Since the physics is different it is properly “another universe”, but the domain wall would sweep over us here.

    [At speeds approaching light. So we will never see it coming to devour us. Quick, where was my application for Pascal's wager?]

  165. #166 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    David Marjanovi?:

    The fine tuning of the universe found in the anthropic principle requires materialist to postulate an infinite number of other universes in order to account for the precise order found in this one.

    Untrue.

    In all fairness, while neither the original multiverse scenario nor cosmological selection requires an infinite number of universes, cosmological natural selection isn’t at the time a realistic proposal. (Smolin’s original idea of black holes doesn’t seem to work, at least with todays theories.)

    There is another mechanism that also invalidates Bond’s claim, improbable but in an eternal universe unavoidable spontaneous tunneling from our false vacuum to negative vacuum energy creating those famous de Sitter bubbles. Since the physics is different it is properly “another universe”, but the domain wall would sweep over us here.

    [At speeds approaching light. So we will never see it coming to devour us. Quick, where was my application for Pascal's wager?]

  166. #167 Steven carr
    August 27, 2007

    ‘How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” – “That’s my seat, I was there first” – “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” – “Why should you shove in first?” – “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine” – “Come on, you promised.”‘

    Lewis seemed to miss one out – ‘I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.’

  167. #168 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Andrew you stated:
    No, what I’m saying is that if your argument would be
    equally, if not better, supported if the facts were COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE, then you aren’t really making an argument.

    In regards to this statement you made:
    Imagine, if you will, if the facts of the universe were *exactly the opposite* of what we presently observe; that is, that virtually the entire universe was habitable. Picture a universe in which the whole of it is a few thousand miles across, in which outer space is oxygen-rich and breathable by humans, other planets are all earthlike and capable of sustaining life, and the ‘stars’ are tiny bits of fire off in the distance, fixed in the heavens and useful only for navigation and observation here on earth. Everywhere we would look, we would discover evidence that the universe was uniquely and specifically designed just for us.

    Now, if that were so, wouldn’t that be a pretty good argument for the God of the Bible?

    Yes, it would Andrew be a good argument. On the surface it would be a good argument that is. Yet the actual Theistic postulation of the bible makes clear that “the earth is unique in this universe”! That is to say that God created the heavens and the earth (notice the “earth” is a singular word after the plural word of “heavens”. Many times the earth is singled out for God’s creative power in the Bible. I can think of nowhere in the Bible for a Theistic postulation of more than one earth like planet in this universe. Can You Andrew? So Andrew even though, commonsense-wise it may seem desirable to see 100% earth like planets in the universe that is not what the Theistic postulations of the Bible stipulate. They indicate the earth to be unique in the heaven-s! Thus the recent evidence for the earths uniqueness in this universe falls in line with the Anthropic postulation of the Theistic hypothesis found in the bible and goes against a commonsense postulation of theism and it goes against the materialistic postulation that life should be common in this universe! The only reason materialism can not be completely ruled out is that “anything can happen once. Yet materialism is defaulted as a hypothesis by across the board comparison of predictions to the Theistic postulations. Like these following comparisons:

    1. Materialism did not predict the big bang. Yet Theism always said the universe was created.

    2. Materialism did not predict a sub-atomic (quantum) world that blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. Yet Theism always said the universe is the craftsmanship of God who is not limited by time or space.

    3. Materialism did not predict the fact that time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, as revealed by Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Yet Theism always said that God exists in a timeless eternity.

    4. Materialism did not predict the stunning precision for the underlying universal constants for the universe, found in the Anthropic Principle, which allows life as we know it to be possible. Yet Theism always said God laid the foundation of the universe, so the stunning, unchanging, clockwork precision found for the various universal constants is not at all unexpected for Theism.

    5. Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Yet statistical analysis of the many required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. Theism would have expected the earth to be extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support complex life.

    6. Materialism did not predict the fact that the DNA code is, according to Bill Gates, far, far more advanced than any computer code ever written by man. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity in the DNA code.

    7. Materialism presumed a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA, which is not the case at all. Yet Theism would have naturally presumed such a high if not, what most likely is, complete negative mutation rate to an organism’s DNA.

    8. Materialism presumed a very simple first life form. Yet the simplest life ever found on Earth is, according to Geneticist Michael Denton PhD., far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity for the “simplest” life on earth.

    9. Materialism predicted that it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Yet we find evidence for “complex” photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth (Nov. 7, 1996, study in Nature). Theism would have naturally expected this sudden appearance of life on earth.

    10. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. The Cambrian Explosion, by itself, destroys this myth. Yet Theism would have naturally expected such sudden appearance of the many different and completely unique fossils in the Cambrian explosion.

    11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils. Theism would have naturally expected fossils to suddenly appear in the fossil record with stability afterwards as well as no evidence of transmutation into radically new forms.

    I could probably go a lot further for the evidence is extensive and crushing against the Materialistic philosophy. As stated before, an overriding hypothesis in science, such as Materialism currently is, is suppose to give correct guidance to scientists. Materialism has failed miserably in its predictive power for science. The hypothesis with the strongest predictive power in science is “suppose” to be the prevailing philosophy of science. That philosophy should be Theism. Why this shift in science has not yet occurred is a mystery that needs to be remedied to enable new, and potentially wonderful, breakthroughs in science. Thus, the major goal of this paper is to indicate where Materialism may currently be leading scientists down a false path and potentially hampering future breakthroughs in science. So Andrew, when looking at the evidence I have to honestly admit the Theistic hypothesis is extremely robust as a viable hypothesis !

  168. #169 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    Bond, James Bond:

    Nothing of what you claim about physics or physicists are true, which might be why you provide no references. (Except of course to the creationist sites where you probably picked up these falsehoods.)

    For example, Hoyle was rather eccentric and a firm believer in panspermia without having much evidence. And he didn’t find that “carbon is synthesized in stars” with “precision” depending on “a staggering numerical balance to the many independent universal constants needed to synthesize carbon in the stars”.

    What Hoyle proposed was a resolution to how carbon is synthesized in some older stars when they run out of fusible hydrogen in their centers.

    It seems a priori to be an unlikely process involving 2+1 helium nuclei fusing in fast succession, which is verified by big bang nucleosynthesis not producing any carbon.

    But since C12 is now abundant Hoyle surmised that there are two energy level resonances that increases the probability for the last step and it was later found.

    This is an example of indirectly using the tautological anthropic principle to find out parameters compatible with the observation that we (and our specific universe) are here. It is not the same principle used in multiverse scenarios, nor does it bear on such likelihoods. (See my previous comment #154.)

    In the same manner, the tight limits of parameters which creationists claim (and often falsely claims are unexplained finetunings instead of explained constraints or finetunings) are wrong. Cycling universes have problems, but not with entropy (IIRC you can ask your reference Penrose for a detailed explanation), and so on…

    Gish galloping falsehoods is not a wise thing to do outside creationist rally meetings.

  169. #170 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 27, 2007

    Bond, James Bond:

    Nothing of what you claim about physics or physicists are true, which might be why you provide no references. (Except of course to the creationist sites where you probably picked up these falsehoods.)

    For example, Hoyle was rather eccentric and a firm believer in panspermia without having much evidence. And he didn’t find that “carbon is synthesized in stars” with “precision” depending on “a staggering numerical balance to the many independent universal constants needed to synthesize carbon in the stars”.

    What Hoyle proposed was a resolution to how carbon is synthesized in some older stars when they run out of fusible hydrogen in their centers.

    It seems a priori to be an unlikely process involving 2+1 helium nuclei fusing in fast succession, which is verified by big bang nucleosynthesis not producing any carbon.

    But since C12 is now abundant Hoyle surmised that there are two energy level resonances that increases the probability for the last step and it was later found.

    This is an example of indirectly using the tautological anthropic principle to find out parameters compatible with the observation that we (and our specific universe) are here. It is not the same principle used in multiverse scenarios, nor does it bear on such likelihoods. (See my previous comment #154.)

    In the same manner, the tight limits of parameters which creationists claim (and often falsely claims are unexplained finetunings instead of explained constraints or finetunings) are wrong. Cycling universes have problems, but not with entropy (IIRC you can ask your reference Penrose for a detailed explanation), and so on…

    Gish galloping falsehoods is not a wise thing to do outside creationist rally meetings.

  170. #171 Inky
    August 27, 2007

    The DNA code simply “codes” for proteins and tells them when they should start making those proteins.

    That’s about it, really.

    The old-school game of Tetris in the 80′s was probably more complicated than that.

  171. #172 True Bob
    August 27, 2007

    double-o nothing,

    You are going to have to specify which theism you are talking about (obviously christianity). Some have creation, some do not, some have a god, some have gods, and IIRC, Buddhism (some forms) can be sans god. Your blathering appears to not follow science, but religious dogma. In particular, it seems you are starting with a christer dogma. And even that does not refute other gods.

  172. #173 frog
    August 27, 2007

    Well, lemme see – almost all civilizations have at some point in their history taken to cannibalism and declared it a moral good – there was a nature paper on prion defensive genes that argues that, and just read a bit of greek mythology and the bible in the right light.

    Therefore, if it’s a natural “Law” it must be given by a “Law Giver”. So God wants us to run out and barbecue each other. So Christians, who are theophagists symbolically only, are sinners in comparison to New Guinea highlanders of the last century who were androphagists in practice.

    QED, something or other.

  173. #174 Blake Stacey
    August 27, 2007

    Torbjörn Larsson, OM:

    Steven Weinberg points out that there’s more “wiggle room” in that carbon-resonance situation than usually acknowledged.

    In fact, the carbon nucleus is known experimentally to have just such a radioactive state, with an energy 7.65 MeV above the normal state. At first sight this may seem like a pretty close call; the energy of this radioactive state of carbon misses being too high to allow the formation of carbon (and hence of us) by only 0.05 MeV, which is less than one percent of 7.65 MeV. It may appear that the constants of nature on which the properties of all nuclei depend have been carefully fine-tuned to make life possible.

    Looked at more closely, the fine-tuning of the constants of nature here does not seem so fine. We have to consider the reason why the formation of carbon in stars requires the existence of a radioactive state of carbon with an energy not more than 7.7 MeV above the energy of the normal state. The reason is that the carbon nuclei in this state are actually formed in a two-step process: first, two helium nuclei combine to form the unstable nucleus of a beryllium isotope, beryllium 8, which occasionally, before it falls apart, captures another helium nucleus, forming a carbon nucleus in its radioactive state, which then decays into normal carbon. The total energy of the beryllium 8 nucleus and a helium nucleus at rest is 7.4 MeV above the energy of the normal state of the carbon nucleus; so if the energy of the radioactive state of carbon were more than 7.7 MeV it could only be formed in a collision of a helium nucleus and a beryllium 8 nucleus if the energy of motion of these two nuclei were at least 0.3 MeV — an energy which is extremely unlikely at the temperatures found in stars.

    Thus the crucial thing that affects the production of carbon in stars is not the 7.65 MeV energy of the radioactive state of carbon above its normal state, but the 0.25 MeV energy of the radioactive state, an unstable composite of a beryllium 8 nucleus and a helium nucleus, above the energy of those nuclei at rest. This energy misses being too high for the production of carbon by a fractional amount of 0.05 MeV/0.25 MeV, or 20 percent, which is not such a close call after all.

    [emphasis added]

    For this calculation, Weinberg points to the paper by M. Livio, D. Hollowell, A. Weiss, and J.W. Truran, “The anthropic significance of the existence of an excited state of 12C”, Nature 340, 6231 (27 July 1989).

  174. #175 Blake Stacey
    August 27, 2007

    Here’s a direct link for those who’ve got Nature subscriptions.

  175. #176 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    It would help Jame Bong’s case if he could actually provide specific examples of where “Biblical Theory” provided better explanantions for biological and paleontological phenomena, and to stop conflating conflating “materialism” with Evolutionary Biology.

    The specific reason why the Bible is not used as a tool by biologists or paleontologists is because it has no information that can be utilized in furthering knowledge in either fields. Mr Bong fails to comprehend this.

  176. #177 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Blake Stacy you stated; This energy misses being too high for the production of carbon by a fractional amount of 0.05 MeV/0.25 MeV, or 20 percent, which is not such a close call after all.
    Yet This point of fine tuning is not refuted by your assertion since it still falls within a overall pattern of limits that JUST SO happen to be met: This is a partial list of “Just So” parameters, compiled by Dr. Hugh Ross, that have been met for life to be possible in this universe;

    Fine Tuning Parameters for the Universe

    1. strong nuclear force constant
    if larger: no hydrogen would form; atomic nuclei for most life-essential elements would be unstable; thus, no life chemistry
    if smaller: no elements heavier than hydrogen would form: again, no life chemistry
    2. weak nuclear force constant
    if larger: too much hydrogen would convert to helium in big bang; hence, stars would convert too much matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
    if smaller: too little helium would be produced from big bang; hence, stars would convert too little matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
    3. gravitational force constant
    if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn too rapidly and too unevenly for life chemistry
    if smaller: stars would be too cool to ignite nuclear fusion; thus, many of the elements needed for life chemistry would never form
    4. electromagnetic force constant
    if greater: chemical bonding would be disrupted; elements more massive than boron would be unstable to fission
    if lesser: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry
    5. ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant
    if larger: all stars would be at least 40% more massive than the sun; hence, stellar burning would be too brief and too uneven for life support
    if smaller: all stars would be at least 20% less massive than the sun, thus incapable of producing heavy elements
    6. ratio of electron to proton mass
    if larger: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry
    if smaller: same as above
    7. ratio of number of protons to number of electrons
    if larger: electromagnetism would te gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
    if smaller: same as above
    8. expansion rate of the universe
    if larger: no galaxies would form
    if smaller: universe would collapse, even before stars formed
    9. entropy level of the universe
    if larger: stars would not form within proto-galaxies
    if smaller: no proto-galaxies would form
    10. mass density of the universe
    if larger: overabundance of deuterium from big bang would cause stars to burn rapidly, too rapidly for life to form
    if smaller: insufficient helium from big bang would result in a shortage of heavy elements
    11. velocity of light
    if faster: stars would be too luminous for life support if slower: stars would be insufficiently luminous for life support
    12. age of the universe
    if older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would exist in the right (for life) part of the galaxy
    if younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed
    13. initial uniformity of radiation
    if more uniform: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed
    if less uniform: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space
    14. average distance between galaxies
    if larger: star formation late enough in the history of the universe would be hampered by lack of material
    if smaller: gravitational tug-of-wars would destabilize the sun’s orbit
    15. density of galaxy cluster
    if denser: galaxy collisions and mergers would disrupt the sun’s orbit
    if less dense: star formation late enough in the history of the universe would be hampered by lack of material
    16. average distance between stars
    if larger: heavy element density would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
    if smaller: planetary orbits would be too unstable for life
    17. fine structure constant (describing the fine-structure splitting of spectral lines) if larger: all stars would be at least 30% less massive than the sun
    if larger than 0.06: matter would be unstable in large magnetic fields
    if smaller: all stars would be at least 80% more massive than the sun
    18. decay rate of protons
    if greater: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation
    if smaller: universe would contain insufficient matter for life
    19. 12C to 16O nuclear energy level ratio
    if larger: universe would contain insufficient oxygen for life
    if smaller: universe would contain insufficient carbon for life
    20. ground state energy level for 4He
    if larger: universe would contain insufficient carbon and oxygen for life
    if smaller: same as above
    21. decay rate of 8Be
    if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars
    if faster: no element heavier than beryllium would form; thus, no life chemistry
    22. ratio of neutron mass to proton mass
    if higher: neutron decay would yield too few neutrons for the formation of many life-essential elements
    if lower: neutron decay would produce so many neutrons as to collapse all stars into neutron stars or black holes
    23. initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons
    if greater: radiation would prohibit planet formation
    if lesser: matter would be insufficient for galaxy or star formation
    24. polarity of the water molecule
    if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too high for life
    if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too low for life; liquid water would not work as a solvent for life chemistry; ice would not float, and a runaway freeze-up would result
    25. supernovae eruptions
    if too close, too frequent, or too late: radiation would exterminate life on the planet
    if too distant, too infrequent, or too soon: heavy elements would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
    26. white dwarf binaries
    if too few: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry
    if too many: planetary orbits would be too unstable for life
    if formed too soon: insufficient fluorine production
    if formed too late: fluorine would arrive too late for life chemistry
    27. ratio of exotic matter mass to ordinary matter mass
    if larger: universe would collapse before solar-type stars could form
    if smaller: no galaxies would form
    28. number of effective dimensions in the early universe
    if larger: quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist; thus, life would be impossible
    if smaller: same result
    29. number of effective dimensions in the present universe
    if smaller: electron, planet, and star orbits would become unstable
    if larger: same result
    30. mass of the neutrino
    if smaller: galaxy clusters, galaxies, and stars would not form
    if larger: galaxy clusters and galaxies would be too dense
    31. big bang ripples
    if smaller: galaxies would not form; universe would expand too rapidly
    if larger: galaxies/galaxy clusters would be too dense for life; black holes would te; universe would collapse before life-site could form
    32. size of the relativistic dilation factor
    if smaller: certain life-essential chemical reactions will not function properly
    if larger: same result
    33. uncertainty magnitude in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
    if smaller: oxygen transport to body cells would be too small and certain life-essential elements would be unstable
    if larger: oxygen transport to body cells would be too great and certain life-essential elements would be unstable
    34. cosmological constant
    if larger: universe would expand too quickly to form solar-type stars

  177. #178 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    How is this copy and paste nonsense proof that Adam and Eve rode on the back of a dinosaur?

  178. #179 Rey Fox
    August 27, 2007

    Are you kidding, Stanton? His case is unimpeachable! There clearly is a God that hides in subatomic particles that travel at the speed of light and Theism totally predicted all that stuff that scientists aren’t sure about. And all those materialist predictions were way off, including the ones that were never made. What part of all that do you need clarifying?

  179. #180 Bond, James bond
    August 27, 2007

    Stanton,
    If materialism is not the philosophical basis for the RM/NS evolutionary scenario what philosophy is its foundation?

  180. #181 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    Are you kidding, Stanton? His case is unimpeachable! There clearly is a God that hides in subatomic particles that travel at the speed of light and Theism totally predicted all that stuff that scientists aren’t sure about. And all those materialist predictions were way off, including the ones that were never made. What part of all that do you need clarifying?

    Like the parts that discuss where the Bible mentions placoderms, and trilobites, and how they apparently died because God killed them because humans were allegedly sinful.

  181. #182 Steven Carr
    August 27, 2007

    How do you adjust 34 free parameters using only 4 fundamental forces?

    Answer. God got lucky. 4 settings controlled 34 free variables. Magic!

  182. #183 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    Stanton,
    If materialism is not the philosophical basis for the RM/NS evolutionary scenario what philosophy is its foundation?

    You refuse to realize that Evolutionary Biology, as with ALL OTHER SCIENCES are NOT SUBSETS OF PHILOSOPHY, and have NO PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS WHATSOEVER.

    To put it in a nutshell, Evolutionary Biology is a description of data gathered by humans about how populations of living, and once-living organisms change with each successive generation.
    To argue that this is a philosophy is pure nonsense: it’s as an utter waste of brainpower as spitting curses on the authors of the Bible for not including cheesecake recipes.

    Also, you did not answer my question of how, because the Universe was apparently specifically created to accomodate humans is proof that Adam and Eve rode on the back of a dinosaur.

  183. #184 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Hold on guys, most of You are trying to refute me without scientific evidence. I take it, You admit the evidence is weak for materialism if you must nit pick at Bible stories to defend your theory. Please stick to basic assertions of our respective philosophies and theories and the evidence that science provides!

  184. #185 Brownian
    August 27, 2007

    Bond, James Bond, so much of what you say is so incredibly out to lunch that I’m loathe to have to pick and choose which of your idiocies to dissect, but the pain of reading each apologetic claim is nearly unbearable.

    1. Materialism did not predict the big bang. Yet Theism always said the universe was created.

    So what? Nearly every culture has some sort of creation myth attached to it. Are you suggesting I should adopt Hindu theism then?

    2. Materialism did not predict a sub-atomic (quantum) world that blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. Yet Theism always said the universe is the craftsmanship of God who is not limited by time or space.

    Again, so what? Neither materialism nor theism predicted Joanie Loves Chachi either. So we know the universe at the quantum level is weird and follows rules that are different than those that operate at the super-atomic level. This oddness is proof of God? If this is the claim you’re making, I hope you don’t do something extremely dumb and go on in a later point to gush over how orderly and predictable the universe is therefore God exists.

    3. Materialism did not predict the fact that time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, as revealed by Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Yet Theism always said that God exists in a timeless eternity.

    So God travels at the speed of light? Time has stopped for him? He must have slowed down substantially to chat with Moses in real time.

    4. Materialism did not predict the stunning precision for the underlying universal constants for the universe, found in the Anthropic Principle, which allows life as we know it to be possible. Yet Theism always said God laid the foundation of the universe, so the stunning, unchanging, clockwork precision found for the various universal constants is not at all unexpected for Theism.

    Waitaminnit. The God Outside Space and Time is now a Swiss Watchmaker? What happened to all those crazy quarks and muons which demonstrate God cares not a fig for our conventions? [See #2.]

    5. Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Yet statistical analysis of the many required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. Theism would have expected the earth to be extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support complex life.

    You’re calling the Anthropic Principle statistical analysis? I’ve got four words for you, pal: sample size of one. When you understand what that means, you can tell us all about ‘statistical analysis.’ (FYI, theism also expected the sun to revolve around the earth. Oops.)

    6. Materialism did not predict the fact that the DNA code is, according to Bill Gates, far, far more advanced than any computer code ever written by man. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity in the DNA code.

    Really? So Theism would never have accepted a simplistic model for the workings of the body?

    Look, that’s as far as I can get without a break. So far, all you’ve done is cherry-pick poorly defined concepts from the bible (such as ‘eternity’) and back-define them to fit your impression of recent scientific discoveries.

    I can do the same; the following is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of the Diamond Sutra that demonstrates that Buddha and his disciple Subhuti understood that the observable universe is substantially smaller than the whole of the universe, just like modern cosmologists:

    “Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of compassion and charity a disciple should be detached. That is to say, he should practice compassion and charity without regard to appearances, without regard to form, without regard to sound, smell, taste, touch, or any quality of any kind. Subhuti, this is how the disciple should practice compassion and charity. Why? Because practicing compassion and charity without attachment is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha.”

    “Subhuti, do you think that you can measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens?”

    “No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens.

    “Subhuti, can space in all the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens, both above and below, be measured?”

    “No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all the space in the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens.

    “Well, Subhuti, the same is true of the merit of the disciple who practices compassion and charity without any attachment to appearances, without cherishing any idea of form. It is impossible to measure the merit they will accrue. Subhuti, my disciples should let their minds absorb and dwell in the teachings I have just given.”

    Ta-daa! (Of course, forgive them for referring to portions of the universe as heavens with cardinal directions. They were writing for a different time.) Thus, I expect your conversion by tomorrow morning.

    The rest of your claims are of the old “no transitional forms” kind, and they’re extremely boring and never seem to work on anybody with any knowledge of paleontology, so have fun with those at the church picnic.

  185. #186 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Stanton you stated: You refuse to realize that Evolutionary Biology, as with ALL OTHER SCIENCES are NOT SUBSETS OF PHILOSOPHY, and have NO PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS WHATSOEVER.

    Then why do you refuse to accept anything other than a material/chance explanation for the stunning complexity we find in molecular biology?

  186. #187 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    Science is not a philosophy.
    Science is not the same as materialism: stop conflating the two.
    Do also realize that science is the description of phenomena of the natural world, and explaining why they occur according to natural laws.
    Do also realize that invoking supernatural explanations to explain the phenomena of the natural world defeats the purpose of science all together.

  187. #188 K. Signal Eingang
    August 27, 2007

    Re: negentropy, “The Halting Problem”, #143.

    Put simply, the Halting Problem is a limitation on Turing machines and other systems like them (computers, possibly brains, possibly the entire universe, even). To oversimplify – Turing wondered if it was possible to generate a computer program that could look at other computer programs and determine for certain whether they would eventually halt, or run forever, without having to wait around forever to see. In a proof similar to Godel’s incompleteness theorem, he proved that no such program could possibly exist. This means, for example, that there can never be a perfect debugger, nor any means of representing all the possible states of a Turing Machine short of actually generating them.

    A short but illuminating essay that touches on the significance of the halting problem is here: http://www.scottaaronson.com/writings/bignumbers.html
    …To summarize, one of the interesting upshots of the Halting Problem is that it defines a class of numbers that are certainly finite, yet incomputably large.

  188. #189 Blake Stacey
    August 27, 2007

    Compare Bond, James Bond‘s statement of 2:52 today to bornagain77′s rant on this BeliefNet thread.

    Hooray for copy-and-past Godbotting.

  189. #190 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    Then why do you refuse to accept anything other than a material/chance explanation for the stunning complexity we find in molecular biology?

    Among other things, molecules do not behave “randomnly” and they obey various sets of behavior, as determined by their composition.
    To say that your flabbergastedness over the behavior of biological molecules is “proof” of the divine does not lend you any credibility at all, and strains the credibility of the divine.
    Furthermore, please provide specific examples of how your “philosophy” explains biology or paleontology better than biologists or paleontologists can.
    For example, what does your philosophy say about the long horn-like projections and inflated glabellum of the trilobite Deiphon forbesi?

  190. #191 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Stanton;
    My whole point is to show that The theistic philosophy is scientifically valid and as a hypothesis it is more robust in “natural” predictions than the “natural” predictions that come from materialism.
    As far as a particular scientists benefiting from the correct philosophical basis I think the answer is obvious. An incorrect philosophy will give incorrect guidance to scientists in their search for true answers.

  191. #192 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    If your theistic philosophy is allegedly so much more robust than Science, then how come you have not answered my question concerning Deiphon forbesi?

  192. #193 Inky
    August 27, 2007

    Double-o-R-tard:

    Just because you find something “stunningly complex” does not mean that a supernatural power (or powers) are responsible.

    I find your leaps of logic, for example, stunningly complex, and I must say, I most certainly do not conclude that you are a supernatural power.

  193. #194 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Blake Stacey,
    My Handle is bornagain77, I use Bond, James Bond here because I want to discuss Theism on purely scientific merits and avoid the animosity that many on this site feel towards God. LOL The handle change doesn’t work that well though. I still get pummeled with all sorts of petty prejudices.

  194. #195 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    …because I want to discuss Theism on purely scientific merits and avoid the animosity that many on this site feel towards God. LOL

    Do not conflate Science with Philosophy, and do not conflate hostility towards both arrogant stupidity and appeals to embrace illogic with “animosity towards God.” You arrogantly refuse to realize that there are many posters on this site who feel that embracing Our Lord, Jesus Christ is perfectly compatible with rejecting pseudoscience and nonsense.

  195. #196 Brownian
    August 27, 2007

    My whole point is to show that The theistic philosophy is scientifically valid and as a hypothesis it is more robust in “natural” predictions than the “natural” predictions that come from materialism.

    It’s not though.

    An incorrect philosophy will give incorrect guidance to scientists in their search for true answers.

    Then how do you explain the myriad predictions made by theists that have been falsified, from geocentrism to the scala naturae?

    Uh, you don’t still believe in the scala naturae, do you?

  196. #197 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    Uh, you don’t still believe in the scala naturae, do you?

    He does not, because he think he can beat scala naturae with daily shampooing with Head & Shoulders.

  197. #198 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Stanton you asked: If your theistic philosophy is allegedly so much more robust than Science, then how come you have not answered my question concerning Deiphon forbesi?

    Specifically: If your theistic philosophy is allegedly so much more robust than Science

    1. Theism is more robust than materialism

    2. science is not materialism!

    then how come you have not answered my question concerning Deiphon forbesi?
    , I think materialism is faulty in describing ANY particular species in science for they must construct imaginative and elaborate just so stories with little or no evidence of transition, whereas Theism would look for symbiotic relationships to describe certain characteristics and complexities that would describe the species in its environment.

  198. #199 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    *for a certain “agent” who can’t read worth shit*

    For example, what does your philosophy say about the long horn-like projections and inflated glabellum of the trilobite Deiphon forbesi?

    *points*
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Deiphon_forbesi.jpg

  199. #200 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    I must go to work now. Enjoyed the exchanged guys.

  200. #201 Janine
    August 27, 2007

    Silly man using fictional secret agent MAKING! MY! BRAIN! HURT!

    Sorry silly little man, I do not feel animosity to the big sky daddy. I feel animosity for the likes of you. You are real. I am not so sure about big sky daddy.

    I am just grateful you do not go by the name, Number 6.

  201. #202 Rey Fox
    August 27, 2007

    “Like the parts that discuss where the Bible mentions placoderms, and trilobites, and how they apparently died because God killed them because humans were allegedly sinful.”

    On the same page that mentions subatomic particles and the speed of light and mutation rates.

  202. #203 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    I think materialism is faulty in describing ANY particular species in science for they must construct imaginative and elaborate just so stories with little or no evidence of transition, whereas Theism would look for symbiotic relationships to describe certain characteristics and complexities that would describe the species in its environment.

    A) Science is not materialism
    B) By looking at the patterns as shown among trilobites, scientists have been able to trace many lineages of all known trilobites
    C) Scientists already look at form and function of organisms, and to fail to notice organisms’ relatedness to each other is to miss the entire point of biology entirely.
    D) Why haven’t you answered my question? Would you prefer something easier to attempt to answer with your “philosophy?”

  203. #204 MikeM
    August 27, 2007

    If CS Lewis had ever met George Bush, the last two words of his essay would have been, “Oh, bullshit.”

  204. #205 Jim McDowell
    August 27, 2007

    A couple of the gentler bloggers here have asked me to give my compelling reasons for being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I will avoid staking out intellectual propositions that some might wish to make debating points, however. This is because I’d hate to put down any other points of view here. All I want to do is expose to the two who enquired a little of what’s gone on inside me since 1943 when I kicked and screamed my way into human existence.

    First, I’m convinced from good science of an evolutionary process that arose out of a big bang origin. But I’m no simple materialist, so a Creator who is both transcendent to and imminent in the processes of the last 15 billion years (or whatever) provides me both causality and purpose for this marvellous universe we are exploring.

    Second: while the Bible reflects a variety of world views, all of which require interpretation, yet it has a great deal of historical factuality into which are mixed some incredible bursts of what is best recognized as divine self-revelation in it. I’m no fundamentalist, so the historico-cultural work of interpretation and evaluation needs to be done, and the result is a rich human story with sufficient glimpses of divine truth that we are adequately guided in our spiritual quest to know the Creator, and to do so through the historical and divine Jesus. Yes there are other scriptures, and I find the Koran’s parallel stories to be quite useful. I have become a disciple of the Jesus of the Old and New Testaments, however, and the time-lined (historical) unfolding of the these Testaments has put a compelling focus on Jesus the Christ. Blogger #156 mentioned his greater interest in the quest for the historical Jesus than in theological and apologetic endeavours. Right on…history matters greatly. (BTW, religious faith must keep in step with the unfolding of history and the development of knowledge, both of which are happening so prolifically at this time.)

    Finally, just one more reason that compels me to continue in a relationship of trust in Jesus Christ. It relates to what we have to call (as St. Paul did) the power of the Gospel, the “good news” wrapped up in the life and person of Jesus Christ. For brevity, let me highlight only two key aspects–the Gospel’s ability to reconcile people with each other and God, and its ability to transform lives. I respect everyone too much to preach here on these aspects. They can, thankfully, speak for themselves, and reflect my personal experience.

    Many objections might be thrown up to me concerning atrocities that people have done and even now are doing in the name of Jesus Christ and his father God. Know what?…I’m gonna concede them all pretty much. As a disciple, I’ve decided to be a learner and descend to abject humility and repentance for the sins and mistakes of people who were religious/misguided or who exploited religion for self-interested purposes. Too much of the human record is simply horrible and unconscionable given the development of knowledge and society today. As in all fields, history’s record is good enough today that we can’t escape any of the burden of historical malfeasance, no matter how damning it proves to be. Be that as it may, I believe we can learn, either as a Christian or as non-Christian. When I climbed into the disciple-of-Jesus boat as a teen, I was unaware of the many problems the Christian faith encounters largely as a result of misguided human endeavours past and present. Yet, (and only) in repentance, reconciliation and transformation, I increasingly find this boat seaworthy with respect to the crosscurrents and eddies flowing through our global village, provided I remain a humble learner who respects each and every neighbour in the village.

    I may regret writing this…we’ll see.

  205. #206 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    I must go to work now. Enjoyed the exchanged guys.

    Translation: “I can’t answer his questions because my philosophy won’t let me learn how to pronounce “trilobite”!”

  206. #207 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    I may regret writing this…we’ll see.

    Why should you? That’s like regretting carving a likeness of Mount Rushmore out of 20 lbs of Wisconsin cheddar.

  207. #208 Josh
    August 27, 2007

    *Materialism predicted that it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Yet we find evidence for “complex” photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth (Nov. 7, 1996, study in Nature). Theism would have naturally expected this sudden appearance of life on earth.*

    I can avoid going into many of the things wrong with this statement, and there are a number, as they have already been addressed, but the central point should be discussed.

    Your use of the scientific literature to support a point is commendable, but you should perhaps read a little more closely before making a citation.

    The earliest known microfossils, a decade ago when that Nature article was published, dated to 3.5 Billion years BP (abbreviated Ga). The oldest sedimentary rocks known at that time, which were the rocks the article was *actually talking about,* date to about 3.85 Ga. The article was not about the 3.5 Ga microfossils at all, which are ‘structurally complex.’ Rather, the paper was about 3.85 billion year old evidence of life, which was predicted when the 3.5 billion year old fossils were described *because* they *are* fairly complex. The article is actually a very nice little hypothesis test. The evidence for life discussed in the 1996 paper was geochemical in nature…not by any means ‘complex life.’ The paper was an isotope paper…it wasn’t really about paleontology, in the strict sense, at all. The evidence discussed in that paper is substantially less complicated than the earliest known things we would call fossils. Indeed…what we would predict. The paper actually supports (since 250-300 million years is a long time) the first sentence in that paragraph above that you wrote…it does not refute it. You blew a hole in your own point with the paper you used to *make* the point. And honestly that should have been obvious from the initial paragraph of the article.

  208. #209 Dustin
    August 27, 2007

    Lewis’s apologetics are even more nauseating than the people who think that physical law (which is, after all, an artifact of the mathematics used to describe physical phenomena rather than a set of rules to which reality must conform — thanks, Emmy) is an indicator of design. That’s because, while the Paley’s watch nutters at least have something objective and real to play with (even if they’ve grossly misunderstood what physical laws are) the moralists don’t. They’re the crybabies who, in philosophy classes, respond with:

    Whhaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! But it just isn’t so! Sniffle, sob, whaaaaaaa!

    When confronted with GE Moore’s philosophy of ethics. Deny it if you like, but only a sociopath couldn’t be a consequentialist at least at heart.

  209. #210 Josh
    August 27, 2007

    Stanton,
    That’s rapidly becoming your standard question for them, isn’t it (yes, noticing that you’re starting to vary it…)?

    Perhaps it would be entertaining if we were to start a pool as to how long it is going to take even one of them to reply to it directly?

  210. #211 Inky
    August 27, 2007

    Jim McDowell:

    Thanks for sharing. I did not expect you to.

    I’d say that you gave a reason *to* believe, but not necessarily a reason why. It’s wonderful that you use your personal beliefs for self-improvement, appreciation, and relating to your world in a positive and humble way. If only more believers of every stripe were as such. On the other hand, I think that the desire to improve, have a sense of awe, and function in society does not necessarily need (nor prove the existence of) a deity of any sort. So I suppose I’ll remain with my atheistic leanings than not.

    I had to chuckle at your “gentle” blogger comment. No one on this site should poke at you for putting such trust in a system that, when properly used, can indeed help people live meaningful lives. There is no evidence for OR against God; this is why religions are called “faiths”, and not “facts”. I would venture to say, though, that even without your Christian boat you’d still be a positive individual with a desire to learn and be helpful. I have yet to meet a convert that truly changed the core of who they were in the manner advertised, though they might change their outward behavior.

    The posters here merely heap scorn on those who are so unrelentingly convinced that they are right, and that they have ALL the answers, because by doing so they invariably piss the rest of us off by giving dumbass answers to some good, thought-provoking questions.

  211. #212 ordinarygirl
    August 27, 2007

    I read about three paragraphs and then I fell asleep. No church here, but thanks for the nap! :)

  212. #213 Greg Peterson
    August 27, 2007

    I think this book, due out September 30, which features an imagined conversation among Lewis and anti-Christians Hume and Russel, is going to be great (his last book was):

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521707102/ref=wl_it_dp/105-4062254-5214841?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3KPPTFXZOOEHC&colid=1K5DNC3823AFP

  213. #214 David vun Kannon
    August 27, 2007

    Bond,if you are really bornagain77 I have two questions for you –

    1 – Shouldn’t you have chosen Bourne, Jason Bourne as an alias?

    2 – Why haven’t we heard about genetic entropy yet? It’s like your only topic on Uncommon Descent…

  214. #215 Neil
    August 27, 2007

    I read Mere Christianity on the car ride home from a weekend at the coast. It was the middle of August just before the start of my senior year in high school, and I was doing a lot of questioning about life, the universe, and everything. It seemed good enough at first(which really just means that I was able to follow his points with minimal thinking) but as it went on I felt a bit used. The logic(such as it is) goes from clumsy to cartoonish. By the time I got to the “trilemma” I was in fear for my immortal soul. Not because I found the argument compelling, but because I was getting the distinct feeling that God must hate smart people. Otherwise He surely would’ve provided some evidence or decent arguments to show us persnickety thinkin’ types the Truth. I realized right then and there that if the myths were true, then I was damned. I just couldn’t muster up the uncaring blindness(read: faith) to swallow any of it, no matter how comforting it might sound.

    All in all, though, I owe C.S. Lewis a tremendous debt. His writing gave me a glimpse of the motivations toward religion, which helped me understand and deal with religious folks much more easily even as I was growing away from the fantasy. My girlfriend at the time came from a very religious christian family, and I can’t imagine how some of my interactions with them would have gone had I not done some research. Thanks to the writings of Lewis I new enough about modern christianity to pretend, and that pretending got me blowjobs. Passionate, forbidden blowjobs fueled not only by youthful exuberance and hormones, but also by years of ridiculously guilt-ridden sexual repression courtesy of her loving, godly family.

    When I start to feel like I need answers to the questions of life, the universe, and everything, I just go and re-read Life, The Universe, and Everything. Far superior to Lewis, or the bible itself for that matter.

  215. #216 trumpeter
    August 27, 2007

    Ok. So its all nonsense, but I listened to an interview with Francis Collins and he was motivated to be a christian by this book. I was bummed out in the interview however as Terry Gross never did ask him if he thought that Jesus was god walking upon the earth and/or was the savior. All she did was state that Collins was an evangelical and ask about how science and religion can be reconciled.

  216. #217 Brownian
    August 27, 2007

    When I start to feel like I need answers to the questions of life, the universe, and everything, I just go and re-read Life, The Universe, and Everything. Far superior to Lewis, or the bible itself for that matter.

    Okay, but please explain the part about how to get blowjobs again. [Prepares to take furious notes.]

  217. #218 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    In Response to Josh’s challenge to photosynthetic life in earliest sedimentary rock:
    (What evidence is found for the first life on earth?) we will look at the evidence for the first appearance of life on earth. Once again, the presumption of naturalistic blind chance being the only reasonable cause must be dealt with. It is commonly presumed in many grade school textbooks that life slowly arose in a primordial ocean of pre-biotic soup. Yet, there is absolutely no hard evidence, such as chemical signatures in the geologic record, indicating that a ocean of this pre-biotic soup ever existed. The hard physical evidence scientists have discovered in the geologic record is stunning in its support of the anthropic hypothesis. The oldest sedimentary rocks on earth, known to science, originated underwater (and thus in relatively cool environs) 3.86 billion years ago. Those sediments, which are exposed at Isua in southwestern Greenland, also contain the earliest chemical evidence (fingerprint) of “photosynthetic” life [Nov. 7, 1996, Nature]. This evidence has been fought by naturalists, since it is totally contrary to their evolutionary theory. Yet, Danish scientists were able to bring forth another line of geological evidence to substantiate the primary line of geological evidence for photo-synthetic life in the earth’s earliest known sedimentary rocks (Indications of Oxygenic Photosynthesis,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 6907 (2003). Thus we have two lines of hard conclusive evidence for photo-synthetic life in the oldest known sedimentary rocks ever found by scientists on earth! The simplest photosynthetic bacterial life on earth is exceedingly complex, too complex to happen by accident even if the primeval oceans had been full of pre-biotic soup. Thus, naturalists try to suggest pan-spermia (the theory that pre-biotic amino acids, or life itself, came to earth from outer-space on comets) to account for this sudden appearance of life on earth. This theory has several problems. One problem is that astronomers, using spectral analysis, have not found any vast reservoirs of biological molecules anywhere they have looked in the universe. Another problem is, even if comets were nothing but pre-biotic amino acid snowballs, how are the amino acids going to molecularly survive the furnace-like temperatures generated when the comet crashes into the earth? If the pre-biotic molecules were already a life-form on the comet, how could this imagined life-form survive the extremely harsh environment of space for many millions of years, not to mention the fiery crash into the earth? Did this imagined super-cell wear a cape like superman?

    The first actual fossilized cells scientists have been able to recover in the fossil record are 3.5 billion year old photosynthetic cyano(blue-green)bacteria, from western Australia, which look amazingly similar to a particular type of cyano-bacteria that are still alive today. The smallest cyano-bacterium known to science has hundreds of millions of individual atomic molecules (not counting water molecules), divided into nearly a thousand different species of atomic molecules; and a genome (DNA sequence) of 1.8 million bits, with over a million individual complex protein molecules which are divided into hundreds of different kinds of proteins. The simplest of all bacteria known in science, which is able to live independent of a more complex host organism, is the candidatus pelagibacter ubique and has a DNA sequence of 1,308,759 bits. It also has over a million individual complex protein molecules which are divided into several hundred separate and distinct protein types. The complexity found in the simplest bacterium known to science makes the complexity of any man-made machine look like child’s play. As stated by Geneticist Michael Denton PhD, “Although the tiniest living things known to science, bacterial cells, are incredibly small (10-12 grams), each is a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of elegantly designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world”. So, as you can see, there simply is no simple life on earth as naturalism had presumed – even the well known single celled amoeba has the complexity of the city of London and reproduces that complexity in only 20 minutes. Here are a couple of quotes for the complexity found in any biological system, including simple bacteria, by two experts in biology:

    “Most biological reactions are chain reactions. To interact in a chain, these precisely built molecules must fit together most precisely, as the cog wheels of a Swiss watch do. But if this is so, then how can such a system develop at all? For if any one of the specific cog wheels in these chains is changed, then the whole system must simply become inoperative. Saying it can be improved by random mutation of one link, is like saying you could improve a Swiss watch by dropping it and thus bending one of its wheels or axis. To get a better watch, all the wheels must be changed simultaneously to make a good fit again.” Albert Szent-Györgyi von Nagyrapolt (Nobel prize for Medicine in 1937). “Drive in Living Matter to Perfect Itself,” Synthesis I, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 18 (1977)

    “Each cell with genetic information, from bacteria to man, consists of artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction and a capacity not equaled in any of our most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours” Geneticist Michael Denton PhD.

    To give an idea how impossible “simple” life is for naturalistic blind chance, Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for just one of any of the numerous types of “simple” bacterial life found on the early earth to be one in 1040,000 (that is a one with 40 thousand zeros to the right). He compared the random emergence of the simplest bacterium on earth to the likelihood “a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 therein”. Sir Fred Hoyle also compared the chance of obtaining just one single functioning protein (out of the over one million protein molecules needed for that simplest cell), by chance combinations of amino acids, to a solar system packed full of blind men solving Rubik’s Cube simultaneously.

    The simplest bacteria ever found on earth is constructed with over a million protein molecules. Protein molecules are made from one dimensional sequences of the 20 different L-amino acids that can be used as building blocks for proteins. These one dimensional sequences of amino acids fold into complex three-dimensional structures. The proteins vary in length of sequences of amino acids. The average sequence of a typical protein is about 300 to 400 amino acids long. Yet many crucial proteins are thousands of amino acids long. Proteins do their work on the atomic scale. Therefore, proteins must be able to identify and precisely manipulate and interrelate with the many differently, and specifically, shaped atoms, atomic molecules and protein molecules at the same time to accomplish the construction, metabolism, structure and maintenance of the cell. Proteins are required to have the precisely correct shape to accomplish their specific function or functions in the cell. More than a slight variation in the precisely correct shape of the protein molecule type will be fatal for the life of the cell. It turns out there is some tolerance for error in the sequence of L-amino acids that make up some the less crucial protein molecule types. These errors can occur without adversely affecting the precisely required shape of the protein molecule type. This would seem to give some wiggle room to the naturalists, but as the following quote indicates this wiggle room is an illusion.

    “A common rebuttal is that not all amino acids in organic molecules must be strictly sequenced. One can destroy or randomly replace about 1 amino acid out of 100 without doing damage to the function or shape of the molecule. This is vital since life necessarily exists in a “sequence–disrupting” radiation environment. However, this is equivalent to writing a computer program that will tolerate the destruction of 1 statement of code out of 1001. In other words, this error-handling ability of organic molecules constitutes a far more unlikely occurrence than strictly sequenced molecules.” Dr. Hugh Ross PhD.

    It is easily demonstrated mathematically that the entire universe does not even begin to come close to being old enough, nor large enough, to accidentally generate just one small but precisely sequenced 100 amino acid protein (out of the over one million interdependent protein molecules of longer sequences that would be required to match the sequences of their particular protein types) in that very first living bacteria. If any combinations of the 20 L-amino acids that are used in constructing proteins are equally possible, then there are (20100) =1.3 x 10130 possible amino acid sequences in proteins being composed of 100 amino acids. This impossibility, of finding even one “required” specifically sequenced protein, would still be true even if amino acids had a tendency to chemically bond with each other, which they don’t despite over fifty years of experimentation trying to get amino acids to bond naturally (The odds of a single 100 amino acid protein overcoming the impossibilities of chemical bonding and forming spontaneously have been calculated at less than 1 in 10125 (Meyer, Evidence for Design, pg. 75)). The staggering impossibility found for the universe ever generating a “required” specifically sequenced 100 amino acid protein by accident would still be true even if we allowed that the entire universe, all 1080 sub-atomic particles of it, were nothing but groups of 100 freely bonding amino acids, and we then tried a trillion unique combinations per second for all those 100 amino acid groups for 100 billion years! Even after 100 billion years of trying a trillion unique combinations per second, we still would have made only one billion, trillionth of the entire total combinations possible for a 100 amino acid protein during that 100 billion years of trying! Even a child knows you cannot put any piece of a puzzle anywhere in a puzzle. You must have the required piece in the required place! The simplest forms of life ever found on earth are exceedingly far more complicated jigsaw puzzles than any of the puzzles man has ever made. Yet to believe a naturalistic theory we would have to believe that this tremendously complex puzzle of millions of precisely shaped, and placed, protein molecules “just happened” to overcome the impossible hurdles of chemical bonding and probability and put itself together into the sheer wonder of immense complexity that we find in the cell.

    Instead of us just looking at the probability of a single protein molecule occurring (a solar system full of blind men solving the Rubik’s Cube simultaneously), let’s also look at the complexity that goes into crafting the shape of just one protein molecule. Complexity will give us a better indication if a protein molecule is, indeed, the handi-work of an infinitely powerful Creator.
    In the year 2000 IBM announced the development of a new super-computer, called Blue Gene, that is 500 times faster than any supercomputer built up until that time. It took 4-5 years to build. Blue Gene stands about six feet high, and occupies a floor space of 40 feet by 40 feet. It cost $100 million to build. It was built specifically to better enable computer simulations of molecular biology. The computer performs one quadrillion (one million billion) computations per second. Despite its speed, it is estimated it will take one entire year for it to analyze the mechanism by which JUST ONE “simple” protein will fold onto itself from its one-dimensional starting point to its final three-dimensional shape. In real life, the protein folds into its final shape in a fraction of a second! The computer would have to operate at least 33 million times faster to accomplish what the protein does in a fraction of a second. That is the complexity found for JUST ONE “simple” protein. It is estimated, on the total number of known life forms on earth, that there are some 50 billion different types of unique proteins today. It is very possible the domain of the protein world may hold many trillions more completely distinct and different types of proteins. The simplest bacterium known to man has millions of protein molecules divided into, at bare minimum, several hundred distinct proteins types. These millions of precisely shaped protein molecules are interwoven into the final structure of the bacterium. Numerous times specific proteins in a distinct protein type will have very specific modifications to a few of the amino acids, in their sequence, in order for them to more precisely accomplish their specific function or functions in the overall parent structure of their protein type. To think naturalists can account for such complexity by saying it “happened by chance” should be the very definition of “absurd” we find in dictionaries. Naturalists have absolutely no answers for how this complexity arose in the first living cell unless, of course, you can take their imagination as hard evidence. Yet the “real” evidence scientists have found overwhelmingly supports the anthropic hypothesis once again. It should be remembered that naturalism postulated a very simple “first cell”. Yet the simplest cell scientists have been able to find, or to even realistically theorize about, is vastly more complex than any machine man has ever made through concerted effort !! What makes matters much worse for naturalists is that naturalists try to assert that proteins of one function can easily mutate into other proteins of completely different functions by pure chance. Yet once again the empirical evidence we now have betrays the naturalists. Individual proteins have been experimentally proven to quickly lose their function in the cell with random point mutations. What are the odds of any functional protein in a cell mutating into any other functional folded protein, of very questionable value, by pure chance?

    “From actual experimental results it can easily be calculated that the odds of finding a folded protein (by random point mutations to an existing protein) are about 1 in 10 to the 65 power (Sauer, MIT). To put this fantastic number in perspective imagine that someone hid a grain of sand, marked with a tiny ‘X’, somewhere in the Sahara Desert. After wandering blindfolded for several years in the desert you reach down, pick up a grain of sand, take off your blindfold, and find it has a tiny ‘X’. Suspicious, you give the grain of sand to someone to hide again, again you wander blindfolded into the desert, bend down, and the grain you pick up again has an ‘X’. A third time you repeat this action and a third time you find the marked grain. The odds of finding that marked grain of sand in the Sahara Desert three times in a row are about the same as finding one new functional protein structure (from chance transmutation of an existing functional protein structure). Rather than accept the result as a lucky coincidence, most people would be certain that the game had been fixed.” Michael J. Behe, The Weekly Standard, June 7, 1999, Experimental Support for Regarding Functional Classes of Proteins to be Highly Isolated from Each Other
    “Mutations are rare phenomena, and a simultaneous change of even two amino acid residues in one protein is totally unlikely. One could think, for instance, that by constantly changing amino acids one by one, it will eventually be possible to change the entire sequence substantially… These minor changes, however, are bound to eventually result in a situation in which the enzyme has ceased to perform its previous function but has not yet begun its ‘new duties’. It is at this point it will be destroyed – along with the organism carrying it.” Maxim D. Frank-Kamenetski, Unraveling DNA, 1997, p. 72. (Professor at Brown U. Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering)

  218. #219 Laser Potato
    August 27, 2007

    “Why should you? That’s like regretting carving a likeness of Mount Rushmore out of 20 lbs of Wisconsin cheddar.”
    You might, if the cheese had gone off :D

  219. #220 True Bob
    August 27, 2007

    Bong, you are an idiot. This is where I lost interest in your last blather:

    The oldest sedimentary rocks on earth, known to science, originated underwater (and thus in relatively cool environs)…

    Ooh, looky here:

    http://www.resa.net/nasa/ocean_hydrothermal.htm

    but that seems to be mostly boring talk. So look here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6JlDPOeudo

    I don’t believe you can fathom (snrk) the energy involved there.

  220. #221 Duane Tiemann
    August 27, 2007

    Jim McDowell #133

    >pint

    Sure. If you’re in New York, look me up. duanetiemann@prodigy.net

    >reductionist epistemology

    Not exactly sure what that means. If it ultimately means the absence of magic, I’ll bet you’re right. If it excludes quantum effects, maybe not.

    >relationality … amazing spirit

    Depending on what these mean, they may not be a departure from reason. If the intent is to allow magic, then we’re in the weeds. If we merely acknowledge the heroic efforts of some individuals such as PZ, then fine.

    If you’re really saying you don’t care if what you believe is true, then there is not common basis for a discussion.

    >whole > sum

    Again, if we’re implying that self is stored somewhere other than the brain, we’re on shaky ground. Can we replace neurons, etc. with artificial mechanisms without excising the “soul”? Would the result be different from the same construction done from scratch? Is it impossible for a robot to be conscious?

  221. #222 Inky
    August 27, 2007

    Jiminy Cricket on a STICK, only a pompous sadist could possibly think that it is okay to copy and paste an entire bloody chapter that had already been posted at least once before. A simple link would be sufficient.

    This guy isn’t responding to our comments per se; he’s just using them as springboards for his next copy and paste session.

    Born-as-an-R’tard: Please limit your replies to a pithy manner as befitting to COMMENTS, *not* LECTURES, on any blog that you decide to paste, I mean, post, to. Additionally, please remember that the reduced margins make your paragraphs so bleeding long that no one but the most masochistic reader will want to read it.

    Actually, come to think of it, I suppose that’s a clever ploy. What better way to respond and think that you’re throwing in diamonds of unrefutable wisdom but to repeatedly re-paste long scrolls of gibberish ad nauseum ?

  222. #223 Neil B.
    August 27, 2007

    Torbjörn Larsson, OM (does that mean Order of Merit?) (and anyone else who wants to pitch in to this comment in this fabulous thread down the rabbit hole; very literate and thought-provoking):

    First, I didn’t mean replication of ourselves as living beings again, but more like running of our minds in some supercomputer “out there” in the Multiverse (the modal one in full grandeur, not the petty (heh) string theory limited “Landscape.”) Let’s call it the Modalverse? (I didn’t coin that….)

    I mean we can’t define “material existence” period, in pure logical terms. I know you’re thinking, “like this!” but that really involves an experiential concept (that may be hidden, but it’s there) as does the ideal of “But existence or realism is conveniently defined by repeatable observations of phenomena.” Sorry, “observation” means nothing special among descriptions unless there’s consciousness involved. Otherwise, we have mathematical models where the described entities are doing “observations” – all I can say is, you just have to “get” the idea of platonic worlds and the argument of modal realism, it’s hard to pound in unless you are receptive,

    Finally, here’s my own argument for the existence of God in some sense, derived from the probabilistic consequences if modal realism is true (logically irrefutable without additional considerations applied, IMHO.) (And I didn’t say proof, dammit, just “argument”…):

    Here’s the problem: All possible worlds really means all possible descriptions. If so, one has a vanishing Bayesian probability of finding oneself in a world that continues to be lawful instead of one of the infinitely more that were like this up to this point and then begin to diverge. Why? Because of all the changes from then on to different laws and variations and distortions of laws that can be described, and indeed the entirety of what behavior can be described after that point which certainly includes a gigantic set of chaotic futures, etc. It’s like once your in the world of “already came up heads 100 times in a row” or similar, then even so it’s not likely the subsequent flips will continue to be orderly.

    Hence, I think there really needs to be a Manager of some sort, to ensure placement in effect of observers like us in a world that really has laws, since logical possibility is just too inclusive. Think of that as you wish. (Then there’s our having experiences etc., but that gets into consciousness issues and I am just making the argument relating to physical conditions and our being here.)

  223. #224 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    True Bob this is from your site your so excited about:

    Chemosynthesis
    What is happening is that hydrogen sulfide is oxidized, so oxygen is necessary for this process, and the energy released from this oxidation of this hydrogen sulfide molecule is used to power, the fixation of carbon dioxide into small organic compounds. So this cycle … is the same metabolic pathway that is utilized by plants in photosynthesis … takes inorganic carbon dioxide and fixes it into organic compounds that are then food. But, the difference here, the critical difference, is that rather than using sunlight, these animals and bacteria are completely independent of sunlight. They utilize chemical energy to power that reaction.

    Okay where did the oxygen come from True Bob? Oh that’s right photosynthetic bacteria had to produce the oxygen!

    And by the way these “hot life” microbes are every bit as complex as the “simplest” photosynthetic life, in case you want to look that up too!

  224. #225 True Bob
    August 27, 2007

    I really hope you are pretending to miss the point, but just in case you are actually that mind-numbingly stupid, I will type s.l.o.w.l.y.

    “Under water” does not equate to “relatively cool”.
    QED You have no credibility.

  225. #226 Rey Fox, one time Molly nominee
    August 27, 2007

    “does that mean Order of Merit?”

    Order of the Molly. See here.

  226. #227 Bond James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    Though they don’t mention it verbatim in your article, If they fix the oxygen from CO2, I’m wrong. Yet even so this still does nothing for your insurmountable issue with overwhelming complexity of the microbe.

  227. #228 Bond, James Bond
    August 27, 2007

    So True Bob is being rude your preferred method of treating others you disagree with?
    The overwhelming point of the matter is that “complex” bacterial Life appears on earth as soon as possible no matter how you look at it and WAY before materialism had predicted it or can even account for it yet theism is very comfortable with this turn of events!

  228. #229 Carlie
    August 27, 2007

    Shorter Bond at #210: It’s complicated, and I don’t quite get how it works, so that means God did it.

  229. #230 Rey Fox
    August 27, 2007

    That’s because “theism” simply plugs “Goddidit” into any hole it can find. It explains absolutely nothing.

    Of course, I haven’t seen word one about chemosynthesis or photosynthesis in the Bible or any meditation on religion, so I don’t see what business “theism” has talking about any of that. We didn’t discover any of this via revelations, you know.

  230. #231 True Bob
    August 27, 2007

    Dude,
    I am rude to people who act as if they miss the point. Sorry if you actually are that oblivious.

    My point had nothing to do with your cut and parse methodology or arguments on complexity. It was that you write as if you know, but when you toss in (or toss off, if you prefer) for an extra point, your ignorance is showing. So instead of saying “oh, right, there’s all kinds of weird environmental conditions in the briny deep, my mistake”, you change the subject. That, too, is a tactic of the overwhelmed.

    PS “as soon as possible” is a relative term. Do you know every possible form that life can take? Me either. So neither of us can say when life could begin, given a set of starting conditions. In fact, there may well be forms of life that neither you, nor I, nor your precious myopic anthropics, could even recognize as life. Good day sir.

  231. #232 woozy@
    August 27, 2007

    I had to chuckle at your “gentle” blogger comment. No one on this site should poke at you for putting such trust in a system that, when properly used, can indeed help people live meaningful lives.

    The posters here merely heap scorn on those who are so unrelentingly convinced that they are right, and that they have ALL the answers, because by doing so they invariably piss the rest of us off by giving dumbass answers to some good, thought-provoking questions.

    Oh, I wouldn’t deny that some of us are pig-headed and quick to snap. And comments such as “all Xians are nutcases” have been stated here. But I figure that nobody here considers such such to be personal slurs or “character assination” because this is a rough-and-tumble blog and all participants have been fairly warned. Hence, if you aren’t willing to defend your ideas or have you ideas mocked, don’t trot them out. That seems fair, doesn’t it, if fair warning is given and it applies to this narrow corner of a blog rather than to the world on the whole?

    Anyhow, Jim McDowell, you do seem like a sincerely nice person and honest and articulately spoken and that ought to go a long way. I have no qualm with religion, only with people using it to make wrong and stupid conclusions. (e.g. Creationism, young earth, ID, The Crusades, etc.)

    But as long as we are actually expounding actual ideas often about science, I don’t see why we shouldn’t discuss religious ideas (although if we do, I’d like it if we avoid pointless name-calling, baiting, ad hominem attack, and flippant dismisal). I’m actually very curious about religious belief.

    I suppose I’d like to start of with the concept of “materialism”. I a) kind of dislike it and b) don’t really know what it means. Clearly it means a belief in the material world but not in another “transcendental” world. My confusion is what sort of nature “trancendental existence” can have and what it means to “believe” in it. Obviously, and simplistically, scientists study how the observable and verifiable world works and the domain of science is everything observable. As an overly literal 6-year I disbelieved in God (not a very daring act as my parents were atheists, my grandparents were atheists, my neighborhood and community were secular, etc) by not beleiving in Homo Theus the sixty foot guy in robes who lives in clouds and drops anvils on bad guys’ heads. i.e. a purely material God (which I’m sure is naive). You describe your belief in a creator who is both “transendent and imminent”. By “imminent” I take this to mean “material”. Or at least in the sense I take “material” to mean. It is the realm of science to study and explore all things observable and hence all things “imminent”. I’m a bit interested and curious to know what you think are signs and evidence of God’s imminence, but my interest is incidental. I’m more interested in what “transendental” means to you and what is the nature a “belief” (if that’s the right word) in the transendental.

    I suppose the word I want is “actual” or “actualized”. A belief in the material world is an “actualized” belief, whereas my belief in mathematics and personal ethics or political opinions is an “unactualized” belief. Does that make any sense and do you understand what I mean. I think when people think of a soul living on with thoughts and memories after death and a God creating and intervening in the mechanics of the universe (or, if not, listening in an human prayers and thinking about them) one is imagining an “actualized” but immaterial belief. To what degree of “actualization” to you see your faith? Unactualized concepts are subjective (except mathematics isn’t… I might have stumbled into grounds I have properly thought through) but “actualized” concepts aren’t. If “actualized” concepts have natures (say, hypothetically, miracles, the afterlife, God’s personality, etc.) I believe it is in the domain of the observable world to study and hence of science and “materialism” which is why I have objections to the term “materialism”.

    In the paragraph you called “second” you relate your interest in the historical factuality of the bible and the life of Jesus. This is good. All scholars should be interested in truth and clarity. And as a religious person it is natural that you which to glimpse the divine. Now I hope I can word this genuine question in an inoffensive way but what is the nature of a belief in the divine? To be blunt, does one “know” or “believe” in divinity in the same sense as one knows or believe that water is composed of bonded hydrogen and oxygen atoms? Do you believe, if this isn’t too blunt or baiting, that you are right and atheists are wrong? Or that Jesus was divine but the Angel Moroni was not? I’m not asking to be devisive but to glimpse what the nature of “faith” is.

    I’m a fairly philosophical person (I prefer not to use the word “spiritual” as it implies a belief in an actualized spirit). I find myself constantly thinking about personal quests for meaning and purpose and truth. Usually I believe meaning and purpose lie in personal “unactualized” thoughts and values. I always figure I should question myself and consider I may be wrong or that another’s belief may be as valid as my own so I frequently ask myself “is there a God (usually the hippy-dippy lovie-dovie pan-denominational universal spirit god but it’s a start, right?) and if so what must he/she/it be like”. Although I can imagine such, I always find I can’t believe it’d be any possible objective actualization rather than a subjective personal projection. I have religious friends who believe subjective personal projections have a valid existence. I can say “subjective personal projections have a valid existence” with a straight face if I mean they focus a psychological ethic that is important to one. But I just can’t believe they have any “actualization” or *ahem* ‘material’ impact on the world at large, and I just can’t claim that my interpretation of language allows me to call that “existing”. So when these religious friends ask me if I believe in God or religion I honestly have to answer “No”.

    As a believer, what do you think of that? *How* do you believe?

    I’m not entirely sure what I intend to get out of this post. I guess I’m just trying see see things from the other side’s eyes.

  232. #233 Stanton
    August 27, 2007

    Stanton,
    That’s rapidly becoming your standard question for them, isn’t it (yes, noticing that you’re starting to vary it…)?

    Perhaps it would be entertaining if we were to start a pool as to how long it is going to take even one of them to reply to it directly?

    It’s my “Intelligently Designed Intelligent Design Explanatory Filter.”
    It allows me to gauge some of the cheekier creationists, like Mr Bong, er, Bond, by seeing whether they evade the question, or engage it directly, and see how much bullshitting they do.
    I pick trilobites and placoderms because 1) they’re two of my favorite groups of prehistoric animals and 2), if creationists were really as divinely omniscient as they so arrogantly claim, answering questions about obscure animals that no one has ever seen would be a cakewalk.
    But, as we can see with Mr Bond here, that has not been the case.
    If you wish, I can change the question.

    Mr Bond, if it is true that it is morally wrong to infer that prehistoric animals are related to modern day animals as you claim, then how do you suggest going about reconstructing ammonites? Evolutionary Biology says they’re cephalopods, but, since that’s apparently morally wrong to do so, what does your theistic philosophy say about them?

  233. #234 Inky
    August 27, 2007

    “Overwhelming”
    “Irreducible”
    “Complexity”

    really just means:

    “I really don’t understand how this works!”

    While there is no shame in that (I know I don’t know a great many things), I never assume that just because *I* don’t know the answer, no one else does, nor does it mean that no answers can be found.

    I really really really don’t find bacteria that complicated.
    What’s more mysterious is how one cell turns into an elephant.
    But just because there’s some mystery doesn’t mean that we don’t have a friggin’ clue.

    We just figured out what proteins are really important for stem cell identity (Wenig, et al., 2007; Okita, et al., 2007; Maherali, et al., 2007). Look! A bunch of totally different groups took an incredible, “overwhelming” claim (We Can Turn Adult Cells into Embryo-like Cells!) by one group (Takahashi and Yamanaka, 2006), and *verified* their *results*. Not only did they replicate their results, but one-upped them by tightening experimental methods and improved on what Takahashi and Yamanaka started. Now, that’s science.

    Stop throwing your hands up and reaching for the Bible for biological matters (or, in Bond’s case, the copy and paste buttons), and pick up a good textbook, to start.

  234. #235 Tom Foss
    August 27, 2007

    Woozy (#96):

    BTW, am I the only one here who *doesn’t* believe all humans have a basic morality? I think given proper conditions absolutely anything one society would consider immoral would be considered moral in another.

    I don’t think that humans have much in the way of inborn morality. However, I think there are certain moral codes which are absolutely necessary for a society to exist and function. A society, for instance, cannot exist if you can’t reasonably trust that your neighbor will not kill you the moment you turn your back. Similarly, since a society requires some degree of communication and collaboration, it cannot exist if you can’t reasonably trust that what your neighbor says to you is true. In other words, I don’t think a society can be very successful if there are no rules against killing and lying. Individuals may be able to consider lying and killing virtuous, but a society in which murder is a virtue would die out rather quickly.

  235. #236 Badger3k
    August 27, 2007

    He thinks creationism is a response to the atheist movement? And he was “converted” by reading Lewis?

    This kind of idiocy reinforces the notion that people who use critical thinking may not use it in all areas of life, particularly when it involves invisible sky-daddies of a certain Canaanite pantheon.

  236. #237 woozy
    August 27, 2007

    Tom Foss
    I don’t think that humans have much in the way of inborn morality. However, I think there are certain moral codes which are absolutely necessary for a society to exist and function. A society, for instance, cannot exist if you can’t reasonably trust that your neighbor will not kill you the moment you turn your back. … a society in which murder is a virtue would die out rather quickly.

    I agree 100%. But given different conditions different behaviors may be needed for survival. It’s a pretty extreme case to argue a society where murder considered virtuous (i.e. a society admiring murder will survive) but I don’t think it isn’t hypothetically possible. This is a stretch and probably a little weak but it’s a start:

    A society of many people and very few resources. Very little incentive to pool or share resources and lots of reason to steal resources from one individual to another. The energy involved in the petty theft, the countertheft and reaction to theft is wasted energy and such wasted energy reduces the already too limited resources. Any form of societal trial and enactment also is an expensive waste of energy. A quick stone to a head with no worry about consequences or debate about whether it was called for is very little effort. Knowledge that murder is utterly tolerated and maybe even admired is certainly a deterent and impietus to be on your best behavior. Result: State of fear, energy put toward maximizing resources and getting along and *not* being the one murdered.

    It’s a bit of a stretch but murder, even if considered virtuous isn’t easy so declaring it virtuous doesn’t mean everyone’s going to konk everyone else just for brownie points. (I don’t know of any society that considers something *easy* virtuous.) And there are plenty of societies where killing enemies strangers, rule-breakers, is considered virtuous. The difficulty with deeming “murder” rather than “capital punishment” or “war” virtuous, is making killing one’s own kind without provocation virtuous while, obviously, being killed without provocation is undesired. I think the difficulty of murdering and potential admiration for unrelated but a associated qualities (strength, virility, decisiveness) make it possible. The biggest difficulty is the victim’s family or co-operative contractors not feeling a slight and need for revenge. (And thus being “vengence” that’s virtuous and not “murder”.) Still, it’s not too far a stretch to convert “murder” to “defending one’s honor”.

    Sociology is subtle and strange. We like to believe bullies are loathed and we have empathy to the victims but there are plygrounds where bullies are admired and even their victims believe they deserved it.

  237. #238 Badger3k
    August 27, 2007

    Gotta admit – the ones who have been responding to Bond’s cut-and-paste “arguments” have my respect. Takes a lot of effort to at least skim the drek he pastes verbatim rather than summarize (with a link included for research). If someone has seen any response in there that answers how he knows his version of god is more correct than any other (such as Krishna, Zeus or Huitzilopochtli. Or did anyone ask if he had any evidence that there is an infinite number of universes? That always seemed one flaw (among many) in Plantiga’s argument. You can assume as many universes as you like, but unless you have evidence for more than one, why should I believe that the “possible” is in any way “probable”? GIGO.

  238. #239 Kagehi
    August 27, 2007

    Seriously, doesn’t everyone here get bloody tired of the “purely random chance” argument? Does rain fall 100% randomly, or is it **dependent** on physics? What about how it runs down a hill? For something to be 100% random chance, it must happen in a total vacuum, where there are ***no*** outside influences. The moment you introduce *any* sort of material, force, etc. to the system, you introduce what those in Fractal Mathematics call a “strange attractor”. In other words, no matter how random the supposed original condition may have been, the end result becomes “constrained” by the effects of the attractors. And that is just the mathematical reason why the argument doesn’t make any sense.

    Random is a *statistical* statement only. It says, in essense, only that, “We do not know every possible parameter that gave rise to the event, therefor we have no direct means to define what the initial state was, or how the result happened.” This means anything from, “Billions of years allowed W, X and Y to eventually produce Z.”, to, “Something *nudged* W, X and Y together to make it happen.” It still doesn’t tell us if the “something” was a meteorite, a change in temperature, solar radiation, a rock slide or God deciding to play fracking golf on the beach. It only says, “We don’t specifically know the state that produced the result.” And frankly, I buy lotto tickets every time the money gets over 100 million or so. People keep telling me that **somehow** people are randomly winning it, but that is hardly proof of anything, so by Bonds strange definition, no one must be winning, because purely random events can’t possibly, even if every one of the 6 Billion people on the planet bought a completely different ticket, every produce the *exact* numbers needed to win, right? See, we don’t even know what the probability of life happening by chance is. It might be 1:100 on any world that doesn’t already have life on it, it could be 1:1,000,000,000,000,000,000. We don’t know, he doesn’t know, no one will know, until/unless we figure out what the most basic form is that you need to start with (and there are several theories on what that could have been, several of which are promising), and more to the point, just how hard it would be to produce “that” form.

    As I pointed out to someone not long ago, one of the likely candidates, form my perspective, would be something like Prions. Some species don’t have them, lots do. We don’t even have a clue what they are for, in species that do have them, and some experiments seem to imply that we might be able to remove them from cattle, and have “no” effect on their biology, other than that they would stop having Mad Cow Disease. Why wouldn’t it be likely that they are a hold over from early life? They are aggressive, simple, not terribly complex, and can self replicate, without the need for “any” host body, so long as they have raw materials to do so. Some, the ones that naturally occur in people, cattle, etc., without hurting them, are just dormant, non-reactive versions, which, for no apparent reason, our bodies produce, kind of like an Appendix. And like an Appendix, if their structure gets damaged in certain ways, they **will** kill you, while having no apparent purpose for existing at all beyond doing so when they get damaged.

    They would also be impossible to detect in a fossil record, so arguing that you can’t find them there doesn’t help the argument that they can’t be a left over from then, any more than any such argument of not finding early life that is that small.

    Point being. “God did it”, doesn’t tell you anything. Not how, actually when (though you can take your favorite theology and perform convolutedly silly math on its dates to try to find some “day of creation”…), why, or even **if** it could be true. Science, unlike philosophy, doesn’t stop at, “What can I imagine could be true?”, it asks, “If it could be true, how can I figure out if its the right answer, or if its just another in an endless list of hypothesis about the subject which have failed to prove useful?” Materialism is just the logical consequence of the fact that when you open the door to unnatural explanations you have to open it to **every** such explanation, no matter if it comes from Christianity or the guy down the street that insists that flafbugles are steeling his toothpaste to build a new universe under his house, combined with the fact that there is **no** way to test which of the billions of possible flafbugles people have invented is the *right* one. It can’t be tested, can’t be verified, and can’t tell anyone anything about … anything at all, unless they are already convinced that its the brown skinned one, wearing robes and a crown of thorns, instead of the mostly naked one, with six arms, black skin and fangs (Kali). And, starting from what you *want*, then looking for an excuse to believe it, is not Science. Real science has an unfortunate habit of usually proving that you have been an idiot, and mostly, if not completely wrong about anything that thousands of other people haven’t already proven themselves wrong about. If anything, the history of science is a long list of people wanted X to be true, finding out that its actually Y, then some small number of them going bloody loony over it, giving up their professions, and wandering around trying to instead make excuses for why they where not wrong, Elvis is living on Pluto, UFOs are planting Chupacabra in Mexico and Intelligent Design makes more sense than Evolution. The rest stare dumbly at the results for a few moments and go, “OK, now what?”, or, in some cases, break out in cheers, because it means the world is actually more interesting than even their brilliant, but ultimately limited, human minds could think of.

    People like you Bond, like to *pretend* that the world is more complex, interesting, etc. than you can imagine, but you also want it to be comfortably stuffed into a bloody box, with a pretty bow, and a label that, kind of like the Hitchhiker’s Guide, says, in nice friendly letters, “Don’t Panic! God explains everything that’s too hard for you, so you don’t need to bother asking what is actually in the box.” I pity you.

  239. #240 woozy
    August 27, 2007

    Or did anyone ask if he had any evidence that there is an infinite number of universes?

    Well, for what its worth: He isn’t saying he thinks that there is an infinite number of universes. He’s saying that *we* think there are an infinite number of universes (otherwise ‘materialism’ couldn’t possibly explain life).

    I’m kind of wondering why he isn’t getting that

    1. Theism predicted that life would be simple. (Just Dirt and Breath)
    2. Theism predicted all life, multicellular and single-celled, arose simultaneously. (Rather than singular cell life kicking around for 3.5 Billion years.)
    3. Theism predicted the earth predates the sun and the stars.
    4. Theism predicted inheritance of acquired traits. (Snakes don’t have legs!)

    etc. etc. etc.

  240. #241 woozy
    August 28, 2007

    Kegehi #231:

    You’re my new hero.

  241. #242 Duane Tiemann
    August 28, 2007

    Oops. Missed McDowell #197.

    I noticed a couple “I’m no … , so …” sequences. I almost suspect that “so” means “therefore”? Might want to review those.

    >historical factuality.

    The same sort of folks that figured out evolution have done a little biblical fact checking. There are a lot of raw bloopers like the earth predating the sun, but even the general theme is way shaky under rigorous scrutiny. I recommend “The Bible Unearthed” and “The Jesus Puzzle”.

    The exodus is dubious at best, etc. Paul may have just been another Son of God cult adherent, not really thinking of a Jesus on earth. Early Christian historical revisions were rampant.

    (Right on…history matters greatly.)

    >Finally, just one more reason that compels me

    I didn’t see things I recognized as reasons yet. So far I see a couple of “I’m no”s, historical factuality, and then “the Gospel’s ability to reconcile people with each other and God, and its ability to transform lives”, but you go on to present evidence of the opposite. Certainly said ability is inconsistent at best.

    Dredging up reasons is tough work. Trying to find the skeleton that supports all the nice flesh. We assume they’re there, but to actually be able to state them is not so easy. Hence faith. Instead.

    I’ve been there and finally admitted I had no credible reasons.

  242. #243 Anton Mates
    August 28, 2007

    Scott Hatfield wrote:

    So much heat, and so little light, for a man who was not a scientist, who first made the argument under discussion on a radio program in the middle of WWII. Wynne-Edwards’ account of group selection (1962), Hamilton’s Rule (1964) and Trivers’ paper on reciprocal altruism (1971) came a bit later, and it wasn’t until the sociobiology controversy at Harvard in the late 1970′s that this stuff started entering the popular culture.

    Lewis certainly misunderstood contemporary evolutionary theory elsewhere, probably influenced by Chesterton–see pretty much everything he has Weston say about “life force” in Perelandra. But in this particular passage, you don’t have to know anything about evolution to see that it’s a lousy argument.

    Even if it were true that morality’s broadly similar across all of humanity, and that most people expect others to share their moral views, that has no bearing on whether morality reflects some sort of objective natural law. You may as well speak of a Universal Objective Law of Yumminess which explains why most everyone thinks sugar is tasty, and why I shouted “This tastes like crap!” when my stepdad snuck anchovies onto my pizza.

    Forget Trivers and Hamilton–if Lewis wanted to defend objective morality, he needed to be familiar with writers like Hobbes and Hume. Instead, he caricatured moral skeptics as guys who deny any meaning to right and wrong in one breath and make moral claims in the next. He’s got no excuse for doing that–he had a decent education.

  243. #244 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    Smolin’s theory is a multiverse theory, and anthropic reasoning (selection effects) does indeed require a multiverse of some sort or another. but not necessarily an infinite number of them.

    Furthermore, it predicts that most universes have that order or a very similar one.

    —————–

    When asking why an existence of a reality is within a non existence logic requires the existence to have a eternal presence in the non-existence.

    This sentence is meaningless.

    It is absurd for existence to come from non-existence.

    Learn some quantum physics!

    ——————-

    cosmological natural selection isn’t at the time a realistic proposal. (Smolin’s original idea of black holes doesn’t seem to work, at least with todays theories.)

    News to me. Please explain.

    ——————-

    I can think of nowhere in the Bible for a Theistic postulation of more than one earth like planet in this universe. Can You Andrew?

    You know full well that this argument doesn’t work. The Bible assumes — and in some places describes quite precisely — a tiny universe of which the Earth is the floor and the (other) planets, like the other celestial bodies, are just points of light. The four corners of the Earth and the foundations of the Earth are mentioned several times.

    You are bullshitting yourself :-)

    —————————

    The overwhelming point of the matter is that “complex” bacterial Life appears on earth as soon as possible no matter how you look at it and WAY before materialism had predicted it or can even account for it yet theism is very comfortable with this turn of events!

    Why can’t “materialism” account for life appearing “as soon as possible”? Remember that there were already continents and oceans 4.4 billion years ago. So if life appeared 3.85 billion years ago, we are talking about five hundred fifty million years. If you want to call that “soon”… No, my friend, science hasn’t got the slightest problem with life appearing as soon as possible.

    I need to go. I’ll reply to your staggering ignorance of paleontology later. (For example, you have a very weird understanding of the speed and nature of the Cambrian Explosion.) In the meantime, please explain what “major” species might be (those between which you wrote the transitions are allegedly missing).

  244. #245 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    Smolin’s theory is a multiverse theory, and anthropic reasoning (selection effects) does indeed require a multiverse of some sort or another. but not necessarily an infinite number of them.

    Furthermore, it predicts that most universes have that order or a very similar one.

    —————–

    When asking why an existence of a reality is within a non existence logic requires the existence to have a eternal presence in the non-existence.

    This sentence is meaningless.

    It is absurd for existence to come from non-existence.

    Learn some quantum physics!

    ——————-

    cosmological natural selection isn’t at the time a realistic proposal. (Smolin’s original idea of black holes doesn’t seem to work, at least with todays theories.)

    News to me. Please explain.

    ——————-

    I can think of nowhere in the Bible for a Theistic postulation of more than one earth like planet in this universe. Can You Andrew?

    You know full well that this argument doesn’t work. The Bible assumes — and in some places describes quite precisely — a tiny universe of which the Earth is the floor and the (other) planets, like the other celestial bodies, are just points of light. The four corners of the Earth and the foundations of the Earth are mentioned several times.

    You are bullshitting yourself :-)

    —————————

    The overwhelming point of the matter is that “complex” bacterial Life appears on earth as soon as possible no matter how you look at it and WAY before materialism had predicted it or can even account for it yet theism is very comfortable with this turn of events!

    Why can’t “materialism” account for life appearing “as soon as possible”? Remember that there were already continents and oceans 4.4 billion years ago. So if life appeared 3.85 billion years ago, we are talking about five hundred fifty million years. If you want to call that “soon”… No, my friend, science hasn’t got the slightest problem with life appearing as soon as possible.

    I need to go. I’ll reply to your staggering ignorance of paleontology later. (For example, you have a very weird understanding of the speed and nature of the Cambrian Explosion.) In the meantime, please explain what “major” species might be (those between which you wrote the transitions are allegedly missing).

  245. #246 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    For perspective, the Cambrian began 542 million years ago.

  246. #247 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    For perspective, the Cambrian began 542 million years ago.

  247. #248 Josh
    August 28, 2007

    Stanton…nahhh…I like the old question just as much as the new version.

    David…please rephrase #237…part of the problem here, I suspect, is Bond’s lack of understanding as to how science is done (PS, I am writing this here before I have waded through his rather long-winded reply to my ‘challenge’ to see if he actually has a point):

    …the base of the Cambrian is *currently placed* at 542 Ma.

  248. #249 Venger
    August 28, 2007

    Thank you for #231.

    The concept of infinite or hugely exponential variability in the kinds of formulas Bond likes to quote drives me nuts. Behe is just as bad.

    If I make the formula and get to choose my own variables it isn’t particularly hard to come up with astronomically ridiculous numbers. Especially in cases where the variables can’t be tested or proven, or are wildly exaggerated.

    Life doesn’t work that way, there are constraints that limit the number of possible random variations. Consider in humans there’s only 4 nucleic acids and 20 amino acids. That limits how much variability there can be in the system, and more those chemicals bond according to fixed and predictable rules. There’s no room for infinite or hugely exaggerated variability, which makes the kinds of numbers that Bond feels are proof look ridiculous. Sure the results in nature are complex, but simple processes repeated often enough generate a lot of complexity when you look at them from the end.

    ID and Creationist proponents place their faith in questions asked backwards, they start with a position…the universe is too complex to be random, and then to back and try to create the math that proves it, and think that’s science. And then wonder why anyone with a rational approach finds them pathetic. The definition of insanity is repeat the same action and expect a different outcome.

  249. #250 Bond, James Bond
    August 28, 2007

    Good morning True Bob,

    Chemosynthetic animals were found to be able to extract their energetic needs from dissolved gasses in their environment “in the presence of dissolved oxygen.”

    http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/regulate/environ/chemo/chemo.html

    Did you notice the “in the presence of dissolved oxygen quote, Since free oxygen in the atmosphere and the ocean comes from photosynthetic life the “Chemosynthetic Life owe their existence to the photosynthetic bacteria. Thus your refutation of my chemical evidence found for photosynthetic life found in earlies sedimentary rocks falls flat. I have to admit though True Bob it was a nice try!

  250. #251 Bond, James Bond
    August 28, 2007

    Since I refuted True Bob’s assertion that life originated close to hydrothermal vents lets go forward and look and see if we can find a anthropic purpose for the first life on earth.
    From 3.8 to .6 billion years ago photosynthetic bacteria, and to a lesser degree sulfate-reducing bacteria, dominated the geologic and fossil record (that’s over 80% of the entire time life has existed on earth). The geologic and fossil record also reveals that during this time a large portion of these very first bacterial life-forms lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) colonies called Stromatolites. Stromatolites are rock like structures that the photo-synthetic bacteria built up over many years (much like coral reefs are slowly built up over many years by the tiny creatures called corals). Although Stromatolites are not nearly as widespread as they once were, they are still around today in a few sparse places like Shark’s Bay Australia. Contrary to what naturalistic thought would expect, these very first photosynthetic bacteria scientists find in the geologic and fossil record are shown to have been preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear from the very start of their existence by reducing the greenhouse gases of earth’s early atmosphere and producing the necessary oxygen for higher life-forms to exist. Photosynthetic bacteria slowly built the oxygen up in the earth’s atmosphere by removing the carbon-dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere; separated the carbon from the oxygen; then released the oxygen back into the atmosphere (and into the earth’s ocean & crust) while they retained the carbon. Interestingly, the gradual removal of greenhouse gases corresponds exactly to the gradual 15% increase of light and heat coming from the sun during that time (Ross; PhD. Astrophysics; Creation as Science 2006). This “lucky” correspondence of the slow increase of heat from the sun with the same perfectly timed slow removal of greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere was absolutely necessary for the bacteria to continue to live to do their work of preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear. Bacteria obviously depended on the temperature of the earth to remain relatively stable during the billions of years they prepared the earth for higher life forms to appear. More interesting still, the byproducts of greenhouse gas removal by these early bacteria are limestone, marble, gypsum, phosphates, sand, and to a lesser extent, coal, oil and natural gas (note; though some coal, oil and natural gas are from this early era of bacterial life, most coal, oil and natural gas deposits originated on earth after the Cambrian explosion of higher life forms some 540 million years ago). These natural resources produced by these early photosynthetic bacteria are very useful to modern civilizations. Interestingly, while the photo-synthetic bacteria were reducing greenhouse gases and producing natural resources that would be of benefit to modern man, the sulfate-reducing bacteria were also producing their own natural resources that would be very useful to modern man. Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by “detoxifying” the primeval earth and oceans of “poisonous” levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ore deposits (iron, zinc, magnesium, lead etc.. etc..). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms. Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization. Yet even more evidence has been found tying other early types of bacterial life to the anthropic hypothesis. Many different types of bacteria in earths early history lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships in what are called cryptogamic colonies on the earths primeval continents. These colonies “dramatically” transformed the “primeval land” into “nutrient filled soils” that were receptive for future advanced vegetation to appear. Naturalism has no answers for why all these different bacterial types and colonies found in the geologic and fossil record would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear. -// Since oxygen readily reacts and bonds with almost all of the solid elements making up the earth itself, it took photosynthetic bacteria over 3 billion years before the earth’s crust and mantle was saturated with enough oxygen to allow an excess of oxygen to be built up in the atmosphere. Once this was accomplished, higher life forms could finally be introduced on earth. Moreover, scientists find the rise in oxygen percentages in the geologic record to correspond exactly to the sudden appearance of large animals in the fossil record that depended on those particular percentages of oxygen. The geologic record shows a 10% oxygen level at the time of the Cambrian explosion of higher life-forms in the fossil record some 540 million years ago. The geologic record also shows a strange and very quick rise from the 17% oxygen level, of 50 million years ago, to a 23% oxygen level 40 million years ago (Falkowski 2005)). This strange rise in oxygen levels corresponds exactly to the appearance of large mammals in the fossil record who depend on high oxygen levels. Interestingly, for the last 10 million years the oxygen percentage has been holding steady around 21%. 21% happens to be the exact percentage that is of maximum biological utility for humans to exist. If the oxygen level were only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy; if only three to four percentage higher, there would be uncontrollable outbreaks of fire across the land. Because of this basic chemical requirement of photosynthetic bacterial life establishing and helping maintain the proper oxygen levels for higher life forms on any earth-like planet, this gives us further reason to believe the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support intelligent life in this universe. All these preliminary studies of early life on earth fall right in line with the anthropic hypothesis and have no explanation from any naturalistic theory based on blind chance as to why the very first bacterial life found in the fossil record would suddenly, from the very start of their appearance on earth, start working in precise harmony with each other to prepare the earth for future life to appear. Nor can naturalism explain why, once the bacteria had helped prepare the earth for higher life forms, they continue to work in precise harmony with each other to help maintain the proper balanced conditions that are of primary benefit for the complex life that is above them.

  251. #252 True Bob
    August 28, 2007

    Bond, you are a liar, and a stupid one at that. I explicitly explained where (what was left of) your credibility vanished. You made a stupid or ignorant statement (equating undersea with cooler environs), you won’t own up to it (where’s your science now?) and now you lie about what I indicated. Why do you hate Teh Tubes?

  252. #253 frog
    August 28, 2007

    I guess Bond (James Bond!) has never heard of negative feedback loops? And misses the point that the more ‘complex’ life forms are specifically adapted for the conditions produced by bacterial life?

    No, No, No, it’s so much more “reasonable” to believe that it’s magic. As always, I ask the ID proponents to stop arguing in the negative (a cheap rhetorical trick) and actually give an alternate theory: a set of equations (or at least a verbal gloss) that predicts the behavior of the great ID’er. What are the evolutionary laws of the Great Engineer in the Sky? Gimme some predictions, and not contortions to find gaps.

    Put up, or shut up.

  253. #254 Dustin
    August 28, 2007

    Bond, this “higher” life is nonsense. You’re trying to establish a teleological form of evolution by, in essence, assuming there is some kind of progression from “lower” to “higher”. T’ain’t no such thing. Stromatolites weren’t preparing anything for anyone. They filled the atmosphere with their own waste, and life adapted to it. Thinking otherwise is the same kind of botched reasoning that suggests clouds exist for rain, or that lava fields cool so that forests can live there. Adults don’t think like that.

    Now, kindly strap yourself to a table. I have a new laser that I’m dying to try on your naughty bits.

  254. #255 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    OK, then let me rephrase #237. (It’s good to post on blogs while in the university!)

    F. Gradstein, J. Ogg, and A. Smith (editors): A Geologic Time Scale 2004, Cambridge University Press 2004

    That’s a 590-page book which dates the beginning of the Cambrian as 542 ± 1 million years ago, and on page 159, in the chapter on the Cambrian, it explains this in the following way:

    11.3 CAMBRIAN TIME SCALE

    High-precision, biostratigraphically controlled dates in the Cambrian are extremely sparse, and ages assigned to the major boundaries have ranged widely in recent time scales (Palmer, 1983; Harland et al., 1990; Tucker and McKerrow, 1995; Young and Laurie, 1996; Bowring et al., 1998). We accept 11 dates as of sufficient analytical quality and biostratigraphic constraint for use in calibrating the Cambrian (Table 11.1). All are based on zircon crystals in volcanogenic rocks and are determined by the TIMS method.
    Uranium-lead ages of zircons from volcanic ash beds, determined on the HR-SIMS method in the Geochronological Laboratory, Canberra, have been used for time scale calibration (Compston et al., 1992; Compston and Williams, 1992; Cooper et al., 1992; Perkins and Walshe, 1993). The ages have produced a time scale for the Early Paleozoic that appears to be 1-2% younger than that based on the mass spectrometric isotope dilution method (Tucker and McKerrow, 1995; Compston, 2000a,b). The cause for this systematic difference is uncertain. The standard SL13 that was used for most of the HR-SIMS dates has since found to be inhomogeneous, but this is not thought by Compston (2000a,b) to be the cause of a systematic error. He has re-interpreted [sic] the HR-SIMS dates and also several of the TIMS dates listed in Table 11.1. In his new time scale, calibrations for the Cambrian and early Ordovician remain 1-3% younger than the TIMS scale. For the reasons discussed by Cooper and Sadler in Chapter 12 [of this book], TIMS dates only are used here for calibrating the Cambrian Period.

    Then it continues on pp. 162 and 163 (Scienceblogs doesn’t allow superscripts, so I rearranged them):

    11.3.1 Age of boundaries

    The maximum age of the base of the Cambrian is now reasonably well constrained. A high-quality Pb-207/Pb-206 date of 543 ± 1 Ma [ = "megayears"] on volcanic ashes in the upper Spitskopf Member of the Schwarzrand Subgroup in Namibia, is assigned to the latest Ediacaran (Grotzinger et al., 1995). The Spitskopf Member is overlain, with erosional contact, by the Nomtsas Formation, Pb-207/Pb-206 dated at 539.4 ± 1 Ma, the basal beds of which contain Tricophycus pedum [a Cambrian trace fossil]. [...]
    The age of the base of the Cambrian is thought to be just younger than 543 Ma (Brasier et al., 1994; Grotzinger et al., 1995), an age consistent with other zircon dates, stratigraphically less-well [sic] constrained, from Siberia (Bowring et al., 1993) and from the late Ediacaran (Grotzinger et al., 1995; Tucker and McKerrow, 1995).
    Recently, the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary has been identified in drill cores in Oman with tuffs on either side (Bowring et al., 2003; Amthor et al., 2003; Fig. 11.4). Chemostratigraphic and paleontologic data are interpreted to indicate the simultaneous occurrence of an extinction of Precambrian mineralized skeleton fossils (Namacalathus and Cloudina) and a large-magnitude, short-lived negative excursion in carbon isotopes, which is widely equated with the boundary (Grotzinger et al., 1995; Bartley et al., 1998; Kimura and Watanabe, 2001). The ash bed immediately below the boundary yielded 543.2 ± 0.5 Ma, and the ash bed at the boundary 542.0 ± 0.3 Ma (2-sigma). Including external radiogenic factors the authors prefer the quoted uncertainty to be 1 myr [ = million years] (S. Bowring, pers. comm., 2003). The 542 ± 1 Ma date then is the best estimate for the age of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary and the base of the Phanerozoic (Fig. 11.5).

    To be fair, I haven’t looked up what the TIMS and HR-SIMS methods precisely are, but the date does look very reliable.

    Mr Bond, in case you have questions, go spy over at Wikipedia to find out how radiometric dating works in general.

  255. #256 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    OK, then let me rephrase #237. (It’s good to post on blogs while in the university!)

    F. Gradstein, J. Ogg, and A. Smith (editors): A Geologic Time Scale 2004, Cambridge University Press 2004

    That’s a 590-page book which dates the beginning of the Cambrian as 542 ± 1 million years ago, and on page 159, in the chapter on the Cambrian, it explains this in the following way:

    11.3 CAMBRIAN TIME SCALE

    High-precision, biostratigraphically controlled dates in the Cambrian are extremely sparse, and ages assigned to the major boundaries have ranged widely in recent time scales (Palmer, 1983; Harland et al., 1990; Tucker and McKerrow, 1995; Young and Laurie, 1996; Bowring et al., 1998). We accept 11 dates as of sufficient analytical quality and biostratigraphic constraint for use in calibrating the Cambrian (Table 11.1). All are based on zircon crystals in volcanogenic rocks and are determined by the TIMS method.
    Uranium-lead ages of zircons from volcanic ash beds, determined on the HR-SIMS method in the Geochronological Laboratory, Canberra, have been used for time scale calibration (Compston et al., 1992; Compston and Williams, 1992; Cooper et al., 1992; Perkins and Walshe, 1993). The ages have produced a time scale for the Early Paleozoic that appears to be 1-2% younger than that based on the mass spectrometric isotope dilution method (Tucker and McKerrow, 1995; Compston, 2000a,b). The cause for this systematic difference is uncertain. The standard SL13 that was used for most of the HR-SIMS dates has since found to be inhomogeneous, but this is not thought by Compston (2000a,b) to be the cause of a systematic error. He has re-interpreted [sic] the HR-SIMS dates and also several of the TIMS dates listed in Table 11.1. In his new time scale, calibrations for the Cambrian and early Ordovician remain 1-3% younger than the TIMS scale. For the reasons discussed by Cooper and Sadler in Chapter 12 [of this book], TIMS dates only are used here for calibrating the Cambrian Period.

    Then it continues on pp. 162 and 163 (Scienceblogs doesn’t allow superscripts, so I rearranged them):

    11.3.1 Age of boundaries

    The maximum age of the base of the Cambrian is now reasonably well constrained. A high-quality Pb-207/Pb-206 date of 543 ± 1 Ma [ = "megayears"] on volcanic ashes in the upper Spitskopf Member of the Schwarzrand Subgroup in Namibia, is assigned to the latest Ediacaran (Grotzinger et al., 1995). The Spitskopf Member is overlain, with erosional contact, by the Nomtsas Formation, Pb-207/Pb-206 dated at 539.4 ± 1 Ma, the basal beds of which contain Tricophycus pedum [a Cambrian trace fossil]. [...]
    The age of the base of the Cambrian is thought to be just younger than 543 Ma (Brasier et al., 1994; Grotzinger et al., 1995), an age consistent with other zircon dates, stratigraphically less-well [sic] constrained, from Siberia (Bowring et al., 1993) and from the late Ediacaran (Grotzinger et al., 1995; Tucker and McKerrow, 1995).
    Recently, the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary has been identified in drill cores in Oman with tuffs on either side (Bowring et al., 2003; Amthor et al., 2003; Fig. 11.4). Chemostratigraphic and paleontologic data are interpreted to indicate the simultaneous occurrence of an extinction of Precambrian mineralized skeleton fossils (Namacalathus and Cloudina) and a large-magnitude, short-lived negative excursion in carbon isotopes, which is widely equated with the boundary (Grotzinger et al., 1995; Bartley et al., 1998; Kimura and Watanabe, 2001). The ash bed immediately below the boundary yielded 543.2 ± 0.5 Ma, and the ash bed at the boundary 542.0 ± 0.3 Ma (2-sigma). Including external radiogenic factors the authors prefer the quoted uncertainty to be 1 myr [ = million years] (S. Bowring, pers. comm., 2003). The 542 ± 1 Ma date then is the best estimate for the age of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary and the base of the Phanerozoic (Fig. 11.5).

    To be fair, I haven’t looked up what the TIMS and HR-SIMS methods precisely are, but the date does look very reliable.

    Mr Bond, in case you have questions, go spy over at Wikipedia to find out how radiometric dating works in general.

  256. #257 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    Photosynthetic bacteria slowly built the oxygen up in the earth’s atmosphere by removing the carbon-dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere; separated the carbon from the oxygen; then released the oxygen back into the atmosphere (and into the earth’s ocean & crust) while they retained the carbon.

    Um, no, that’s not how photosynthesis works. Photosynthesis removes the oxygen from water, releases the oxygen as waste, takes the hydrogen, and builds it into an existing sugar. It also builds carbon dioxide into the same sugar.

    (Breathing reverses this. We split carbon dioxide out of sugar, and the hydrogen that is freed in the process gets stuck on oxygen molecules, producing water.)

    The interesting thing is that oxygen is dangerous. Therefore the theory of evolution predicts that photosynthesis as we know it did not pop into existence fully formed. And indeed, there are bacteria that don’t use water (dihydrogen monoxide) but hydrogen sulfide (dihydrogen monosulfide) as their hydrogen source, producing sulfur rather than oxygen as their waste product. There are also bacteria that directly use molecular hydrogen and don’t make waste at all.

    Now, if you take genes for photosynthesis-related proteins from all those organisms and reconstruct their phylogenetic tree, you find those from the oxygen-producers ( = cyanobacteria) nested high in the tree, as expected.

    ID couldn’t have predicted these or any other results. That makes it less useful than the theory of evolution.

    Naturalism has no answers for why all these different bacterial types and colonies found in the geologic and fossil record would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear.

    Pray tell, what precise concert? The cyanobacteria started poisoning the whole world, so the ancestors of mitochondria adapted to living in such an environment, and then even to using the poison as a more effective electron acceptor than nitrate or whatever they had been breathing before; and then the ancestors of eukaryotes adapted to the situation by accepting mitochondria as endosymbionts. Took hundreds of millions of years, during which there was an imbalance — more oxygen was being produced than used. And we still haven’t quite got the problem of free radicals (a byproduct of having oxygen, iron, and water together) under control. Sound like stupid design to me.

  257. #258 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    Photosynthetic bacteria slowly built the oxygen up in the earth’s atmosphere by removing the carbon-dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere; separated the carbon from the oxygen; then released the oxygen back into the atmosphere (and into the earth’s ocean & crust) while they retained the carbon.

    Um, no, that’s not how photosynthesis works. Photosynthesis removes the oxygen from water, releases the oxygen as waste, takes the hydrogen, and builds it into an existing sugar. It also builds carbon dioxide into the same sugar.

    (Breathing reverses this. We split carbon dioxide out of sugar, and the hydrogen that is freed in the process gets stuck on oxygen molecules, producing water.)

    The interesting thing is that oxygen is dangerous. Therefore the theory of evolution predicts that photosynthesis as we know it did not pop into existence fully formed. And indeed, there are bacteria that don’t use water (dihydrogen monoxide) but hydrogen sulfide (dihydrogen monosulfide) as their hydrogen source, producing sulfur rather than oxygen as their waste product. There are also bacteria that directly use molecular hydrogen and don’t make waste at all.

    Now, if you take genes for photosynthesis-related proteins from all those organisms and reconstruct their phylogenetic tree, you find those from the oxygen-producers ( = cyanobacteria) nested high in the tree, as expected.

    ID couldn’t have predicted these or any other results. That makes it less useful than the theory of evolution.

    Naturalism has no answers for why all these different bacterial types and colonies found in the geologic and fossil record would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear.

    Pray tell, what precise concert? The cyanobacteria started poisoning the whole world, so the ancestors of mitochondria adapted to living in such an environment, and then even to using the poison as a more effective electron acceptor than nitrate or whatever they had been breathing before; and then the ancestors of eukaryotes adapted to the situation by accepting mitochondria as endosymbionts. Took hundreds of millions of years, during which there was an imbalance — more oxygen was being produced than used. And we still haven’t quite got the problem of free radicals (a byproduct of having oxygen, iron, and water together) under control. Sound like stupid design to me.

  258. #259 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    21% happens to be the exact percentage that is of maximum biological utility for humans to exist.

    The other way around: because the air has 21 % oxygen, we are adapted to such levels.

    If the oxygen level were only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy

    Then they’d have to evolve, and likely would evolve, more efficient lungs. Either that or the birds would take over. Bird lungs lack an important design stupidity that mammal lungs have.

  259. #260 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    21% happens to be the exact percentage that is of maximum biological utility for humans to exist.

    The other way around: because the air has 21 % oxygen, we are adapted to such levels.

    If the oxygen level were only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy

    Then they’d have to evolve, and likely would evolve, more efficient lungs. Either that or the birds would take over. Bird lungs lack an important design stupidity that mammal lungs have.

  260. #261 Neil B.
    August 28, 2007

    Woozy, and others talking about “materialism”: the concept has no logical meaning, as I explained re modal realism (and check out the link.) Talk of our experiments/experiences offers nothing to the sheer logical issue of existing “matter” and “physical worlds” being confined to certain possible examples, unless you ironically give consciousness special provenance (which is OK with me, actually.) If you mean, that this around us is self-sufficient and that’s all there is, I sympathize with practical empiricism and “conservatism of belief in”, but there’s no logical basis for existential preferability of something like this versus whatever, is there? How would it be so?

    Also, I have to snicker at those talking about how the existence of God or the supernatural etc. would undercut the point of science etc. in a way insinuating that is support of a material point about what is actually likely to be real. Come on, the practical purposes of what we want to do with various intellectual and operative schemes cannot have actual post effect on what exists, is likely to exist, etc. Finally, those saying science is not part of philosophy etc. are missing that every field has philosophical underpinnings about the framing of the issues, how to operate and interpret findings (and even what should constitute the meaning of those concepts) etc. Every thinker and scientist is a metaphysician, the only difference is between the honestly blatant ones and the crypto-philosophers who dishonestly pretend not to be.

  261. #262 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms.

    The other way around: if the level were higher, we’d have adapted to it; if it were lower, we’d have adapted to it, too. Guess what: when the iron level in our diet changes, we humans change our production of iron-capturing and iron-storing proteins.

    Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization.

    And it absolutely can’t be an accident that there are fewer sulfide-eating than sulfate-breathing bacteria, especially in depths where the sulfide-eating bacteria would have no oxygen to breathe?

    Yet even more evidence has been found tying other early types of bacterial life to the anthropic hypothesis.

    I think you consider youself far too important.

  262. #263 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms.

    The other way around: if the level were higher, we’d have adapted to it; if it were lower, we’d have adapted to it, too. Guess what: when the iron level in our diet changes, we humans change our production of iron-capturing and iron-storing proteins.

    Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization.

    And it absolutely can’t be an accident that there are fewer sulfide-eating than sulfate-breathing bacteria, especially in depths where the sulfide-eating bacteria would have no oxygen to breathe?

    Yet even more evidence has been found tying other early types of bacterial life to the anthropic hypothesis.

    I think you consider youself far too important.

  263. #264 Dustin
    August 28, 2007

    I think you consider youself far too important.

    Funny how the motivation, method, and conclusions of the geocentrist and the creationist are the same, isn’t it?

  264. #265 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    5. Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Yet statistical analysis of the many required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. Theism would have expected the earth to be extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support complex life.

    Have you read the book Rare Earth? Tell me where it mentions or implies a deity.

    6. Materialism did not predict the fact that the DNA code is, according to Bill Gates, far, far more advanced than any computer code ever written by man.

    That only shows that Bill Gates doesn’t know basic molecular biology. The genetic code is just how 64 combinations of 3 bases map to 20 amino acids plus 3 stop signals.

    Perhaps he was talking about gene regulation, but there’s nothing in there that science couldn’t have expected.

    Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity in the DNA code.

    Why?

    7. Materialism presumed a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA, which is not the case at all. Yet Theism would have naturally presumed such a high if not, what most likely is, complete negative mutation rate to an organism’s DNA.

    Huh?

    8. Materialism presumed a very simple first life form. Yet the simplest life ever found on Earth is, according to Geneticist Michael Denton PhD., far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort.

    That doesn’t mean it can’t have evolved from simpler forms that happen to have died out.

    10. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. The Cambrian Explosion, by itself, destroys this myth. Yet Theism would have naturally expected such sudden appearance of the many different and completely unique fossils in the Cambrian explosion.

    Then learn more about the Cambrian Explosion. It’s called an explosion because it only took about ten million years. Its fossil record full of transitional forms, e. g. between arthropods, tardigrades, onychophores, and nematodes/cephalorhynchs and the like, but also with animals close to the origin of vertebrates.

    Moreover, mollusks as a group are older than the Cambrian Explosion. Kimberella is an unambiguous mollusk — an animal with an undulating sole, a radula, and a tough, though not mineralized, shell on top — 10 to 15 million years older than the Cambrian.

    11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils.

    Wrong. The fossil record is full of clear examples. In fact, everything is transitional to some degree. Give me an example of two “major species”, and I’ll explain.

    Also, please read up on punctuated equilibrium. It is a very small-scale phenomenon. Much smaller than you or rather your copy-paste source seems to think.

    Theism would have naturally expected fossils to suddenly appear in the fossil record with stability afterwards as well as no evidence of transmutation into radically new forms.

    Yes, and it would have expected all of them to appear at the same time! Where are the Silurian rabbits?

    I could probably go a lot further for the evidence is extensive and crushing against the Materialistic philosophy.

    Yeah, right.

    And one last thing: stop mentioning names and titles as if arguments from authority weren’t a logical fallacy. Rather cite papers so we can read the arguments and the data with our own eyes.

  265. #266 David Marjanovi?
    August 28, 2007

    5. Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Yet statistical analysis of the many required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. Theism would have expected the earth to be extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support complex life.

    Have you read the book Rare Earth? Tell me where it mentions or implies a deity.

    6. Materialism did not predict the fact that the DNA code is, according to Bill Gates, far, far more advanced than any computer code ever written by man.

    That only shows that Bill Gates doesn’t know basic molecular biology. The genetic code is just how 64 combinations of 3 bases map to 20 amino acids plus 3 stop signals.

    Perhaps he was talking about gene regulation, but there’s nothing in there that science couldn’t have expected.

    Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity in the DNA code.

    Why?

    7. Materialism presumed a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA, which is not the case at all. Yet Theism would have naturally presumed such a high if not, what most likely is, complete negative mutation rate to an organism’s DNA.

    Huh?

    8. Materialism presumed a very simple first life form. Yet the simplest life ever found on Earth is, according to Geneticist Michael Denton PhD., far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort.

    That doesn’t mean it can’t have evolved from simpler forms that happen to have died out.

    10. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. The Cambrian Explosion, by itself, destroys this myth. Yet Theism would have naturally expected such sudden appearance of the many different and completely unique fossils in the Cambrian explosion.

    Then learn more about the Cambrian Explosion. It’s called an explosion because it only took about ten million years. Its fossil record full of transitional forms, e. g. between arthropods, tardigrades, onychophores, and nematodes/cephalorhynchs and the like, but also with animals close to the origin of vertebrates.

    Moreover, mollusks as a group are older than the Cambrian Explosion. Kimberella is an unambiguous mollusk — an animal with an undulating sole, a radula, and a tough, though not mineralized, shell on top — 10 to 15 million years older than the Cambrian.

    11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils.

    Wrong. The fossil record is full of clear examples. In fact, everything is transitional to some degree. Give me an example of two “major species”, and I’ll explain.

    Also, please read up on punctuated equilibrium. It is a very small-scale phenomenon. Much smaller than you or rather your copy-paste source seems to think.

    Theism would have naturally expected fossils to suddenly appear in the fossil record with stability afterwards as well as no evidence of transmutation into radically new forms.

    Yes, and it would have expected all of them to appear at the same time! Where are the Silurian rabbits?

    I could probably go a lot further for the evidence is extensive and crushing against the Materialistic philosophy.

    Yeah, right.

    And one last thing: stop mentioning names and titles as if arguments from authority weren’t a logical fallacy. Rather cite papers so we can read the arguments and the data with our own eyes.

  266. #267 Josh
    August 28, 2007

    David,
    Re: Base of the Cambrian…all you really had to say was *currently placed at* and I would have been happy…but that was quite nice…thanks. I doubt Bond read it or cared, but whatever.

  267. #268 Josh
    August 28, 2007

    11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils.

    The foolishness of this statement, although it has become a creationist, talking point, is almost beyond discussion. Its like saying there is no sandstone in the rock record or quartz isn’t a mineral.

    And what exactly is a major species? How does one define major species?

  268. #269 Rey Fox
    August 28, 2007
    7. Materialism presumed a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA, which is not the case at all. Yet Theism would have naturally presumed such a high if not, what most likely is, complete negative mutation rate to an organism’s DNA.

    Huh?

    I’ll try to translate. Theism presumes the steady state of all forms of life and them being created at the same time. So mutations must be mostly negative so that organisms that change die out (because God loves them), and mutation rates must also be low overall (including for beneficial/neutral mutations), and if mutations accumulate over time, they eventually hit the God Barrier, where God sticks His Hand into the genome and says “Stay in your Kind, low creature. I put a lot of danged effort into making you what you are.”

    I hope that helps.

  269. #270 Josh
    August 28, 2007

    Regarding Bond in #210, supposedly rebutting my ‘challenge’ from post #200 (it will take a while to wade through all of #210, so initially I will just address my original point…again):

    I wasn’t submitting a ‘challenge’ in post #200. I was pointing out that you cited the Mjzsis et al. (1996) article in Nature incorrectly. In your post # 161 you wrote:

    9. Materialism predicted that it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Yet we find evidence for “complex” photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth (Nov. 7, 1996, study in Nature).

    You stated in #161 that we find evidence of ‘complex photosynthetic life’ in the ‘oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth’ and you cite Mjzsis et al. (1996) as supporting that statement. Mjzsis et al. (1996) does NOT support your point. They WERE NOT talking about ‘complex photosynethic life.’ They referred to the oldest fossils (which is what I think you’re going on about) in that 1996 article yes, but those fossils were NOT found in the rocks THEY WORKED ON in the paper. Their paper wasn’t about those fossils.

    So, in replying to my post #200, instead of saying…

    A.’oops…I got that wrong…let me look at it again’

    or

    B.’no, Josh, your post #200 is wrong…they DID say such and such…(and supporting your assertion with evidence, such as perhaps a quote from the article)’

    …you decided to *again* mis-cite the paper in *almost* exactly the same way:

    The oldest sedimentary rocks on earth, known to science, originated underwater (and thus in relatively cool environs) 3.86 billion years ago. Those sediments, which are exposed at Isua in southwestern Greenland, also contain the earliest chemical evidence (fingerprint) of “photosynthetic” life [Nov. 7, 1996, Nature].

    Now, interesting, you have rephrased it as *chemical evidence (fingerprint) of “photosynthetic” life,* hoping that we don’t see the slight of hand.

    Even if the Isua rocks *did* contain the earliest evidence of ‘photosynthetic life’ (and I’ll deal with that in a bit, like whether or not the occurrence of those fossils in those rocks would have any chilling (ohhh…shudder) ramifications for biological evolution), Mjzsis et al. (1996) didn’t say anything about it. They were talking chemical evidence certainly, but about substantially simpler stuff than the ‘photosynthetic life’ you’re going on about.

    You used a paper which actually argues against your point to try and support your point…twice.

  270. #271 True Bob
    August 28, 2007

    How does one define major species?

    Three ranks below a general species.

    ba-dump bump

  271. #272 Bond, James Bond
    August 28, 2007

    David Marjanovi? that was a very good post (#245) on the dating of the Cambrian base of 242 million years ago. But the fossil record is not the evolutionists strong point to put it mildly.

    (What evidence is found for the appearance of all species of life on earth, and is man the last species to appear on earth? ) we come to the evidence found for the amazing variety of complex life on earth. Again the naturalistic presumption of blind chance being the only reasonable cause must be dealt with. Exactly how did all these different forms of life get here? There appear to be only three options for how this amazing variety of life got here; life either originates on this earth by blind chance alone; it is deliberately introduced by a Creator alone; or, it is a combination of blind chance and a Creator. This is where naturalism is thought to have its best evidence for blind chance. The blind chance that naturalism relies on here is dressed up in a “suit and tie” and called evolution through natural selection of a mutation to DNA. But, before we get into the lack of integrity of any mutations to the DNA, let’s look at the evidence found in the fossil record. Most people presume the evidence in the fossil record overwhelmingly confirms gradual evolution from a single common ancestor. Yet this is not the case at all. The fossil record itself is one of the most crushing things for naturalists. What is termed the “Cambrian explosion” is a total departure from the naturalistic theory of evolution. It is in the Cambrian explosion, some 540 million years ago, that we find the sudden appearance of the many diverse and complex forms of life. These complex life-forms appear with no evidence of transition from the bacteria and few other “simple” life-forms that immediately preceded them in the fossil record. This following quote clearly illustrates this point.

    “Yet, here is the real puzzle of the Cambrian Explosion for the theory of evolution. All the known phyla (large categories of biological classification), except one, first appear in the Cambrian period. There are no ancestors. There are no intermediates. Fossil experts used to think that the Cambrian lasted 75 million years…. Eventually the Cambrian was shortened to only 30 million years. If that wasn’t bad enough, the time frame of the real work of bringing all these different creatures into existence was shortened to the first five to ten million years of the Cambrian. This is extraordinarily fast! Harvard’s Stephen Jay Gould stated, “Fast is now a lot faster than we thought, and that is extraordinarily interesting.” What an understatement! “Extraordinarily impossible” might be a better phrase! …. The differences between the creatures that suddenly appear in the Cambrian are enormous. In fact these differences are so large many of these animals are one of a kind. Nothing like them existed before and nothing like them has ever appeared again.” Evolution’s Big Bang; Dr. Raymond G. Bohlin, University of Illinois (B.S., zoology), North Texas State University (M.S., population genetics), University of Texas at Dallas (M.S., Ph.D., molecular biology).

    The “real work” of the beginning of the Cambrian explosion may in actuality be as short as a two to three million year time frame (Ross: Creation as Science 2006). If this blatant, out of nowhere, appearance of all the different phyla was not bad enough for naturalists, the fossil record shows that there was actually more variety of phyla at the end of the Cambrian explosion than there is today due to extinction.

    “A simple way of putting it is that currently we have about 38 phyla of different groups of animals, but the total number of phyla discovered during the Cambrian explosion (including those in China, Canada, and elsewhere) adds up to over 50 phyla. (Actually the number 50 was first quoted as over 100 for a while, but then the consensus became 50-plus.) That means there are more phyla in the very, very beginning, where we found the first fossils, than exist now.” “Also, the animal explosion caught people’s attention when the Chinese confirmed they found a genus now called Yunnanzoon that was present in the very beginning of the Cambrian explosion. This genus is considered a chordate, and the phylum Chordata includes fish, mammals and man. An evolutionist would say the ancestor of humans was present then. Looked at more objectively, you could say the most complex animal group, the chordates, were represented at the very beginning, and they did not go through a slow gradual evolution to become a chordate.” Dr. Paul Chien PhD., chairman of the biology department at the University of San Francisco, Dr. Chien also possesses the largest collection of Chinese Cambrian fossils in North America.

    The evolutionary theory would have us believe we should have more phyla today due to ongoing evolutionary processes. The hard facts of science betray the naturalists once again. The naturalist stamps his feet and says the evidence for the fossils transmutation into radically new forms is out there somewhere; we just have not found it yet. To justify this belief, naturalists will often say that soft bodied fossils were not preserved in the Cambrian fossil record, so transitional fossils were just not recorded in the fossil record in the first place. Yet, the Chinese Cambrian fossil record is excellent in its preservation of delicate soft-bodied fossils that clearly show much of the detail of the body structures of these first creatures. So the problem for naturalists has not been alleviated. In fact the problem has become much worse. As Dr. Ray Bohlin stated, some of these recently discovered fossils are extremely unique and defy any sort of transitional scenario to any other fossils found during the Cambrian explosion. In spite of this crushing evidence found in the Cambrian explosion, our naturalistic friend continues to imagine that all life on earth descended from a common ancestor and continues to imagine missing links with every new fossil discovery that makes newspaper headlines. Yet, the true story of life since the Cambrian explosion, that is actually told by the fossil record itself, tells a very different story than the imaginative tales found in naturalistic newspaper accounts. Where the story of life, since the Cambrian explosion, is extremely clear to read is in the sea creatures who fossilize quickly in ocean sediments. We find fossils in the fossil record that appear suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, fully-formed. They have no apparent immediate evolutionary predecessor. They, just, appear suddenly in the fossil record unique and fully-formed. This is exactly what one would expect from an infinitely powerful and transcendent Creator continually introducing new life-forms on earth. Even more problematic for the naturalists is the fact once a fossil suddenly appears in the fossil record it remains surprisingly stable in its basic structure for as long as it is found in the fossil record. The fossil record can offer not even one clear example of transition from one fossil form to another fossil form out of millions of collected fossils. Some sea creatures, such as certain sharks which are still alive today, have unchanging fossil records going back hundreds of millions of years to when they first suddenly appeared in the fossil record without a predecessor.

    “Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums now are filled with over 100 million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track. What is the picture which the fossils have given us? … The gaps between major groups of organisms have been growing even wider and more undeniable. They can no longer be ignored or rationalized away with appeals to imperfection of the fossil record.” Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma (1988), Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, Master Books, p. 9

    “The evidence we find in the geological record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be …. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. The record of evolution is surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than in Darwin’s time … so Darwin’s problem has not been alleviated”. Evolutionist David Raup, Curator of Geology at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History

    “… Every paleontologist knows that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of family appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.” George Gaylord Simpson (evolutionist), The Major Features of Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1953 p. 360.

    “No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” – Niles Eldredge , “Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate,” 1996, p.95

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.” Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Harvard University and the leading spokesman for evolutionary theory in America prior to his recent death.
    As you can see, the fossil record is overwhelmingly characterized by suddenness and stability. For creatures who have lived in the ocean this fact is extremely clear, because their bones are fossilized in the ocean sediments very quickly. Unfortunately for land creatures, the fossil record is much harder to properly discern due to the rapid disintegration of animals who die on land. The large variety of hominid (man or ape-like) fossils that we do have piece-meal records of are characterized by overlapping histories of “distinctively different and stable” hominid species during the entire time, and the entire geography, each hominid species is found in the fossil record. There is never a transition between ANY of the different hominid species no matter where, or in what era, the hominid fossils are found.

    “If pressed about man’s ancestry, I would have to unequivocally say that all we have is a huge question mark. To date, there has been nothing found to truthfully purport as a transitional species to man, including Lucy, since 1470 was as old and probably older. If further pressed, I would have to state that there is more evidence to suggest an abrupt arrival of man rather than a gradual process of evolving”. Richard Leakey, world’s foremost paleo-anthropologist, in a PBS documentary, 1990.

    As Richard Leakey, the leading hominid fossil expert in the world admits, if he were pressed, he would have to admit the hard evidence suggests the abrupt arrival of man in the fossil record. Yet if you were to ask an average person if we have evolved from apes he will tell you of course we have and wonder why you would ask such a stupid question, since “everyone knows” this is proven in the fossil record. One hard fact in the fossil record that is not disputed by most naturalists is the fact that man is the youngest distinct species of all species to suddenly appear in the fossil record. I find the fact that man has the scientifically accepted youngest history of any fossil in the fossil record to be extremely interesting and compelling to the position held by the anthropic hypothesis. Though a naturalist may try to inconclusively argue fruit flies or some other small types of animals have evolved into distinct new species since that time, he cannot produce evidence for a genetically and morphologically unique animal with a fossil record younger than mans. This one point of evidence is crucial for both sides and is an extremely important point of contention, for this fact is the primary proposal of the whole anthropic hypothesis in the first place; God created the universe with man in mind as His final goal. Man being the last distinct and separate species to suddenly appear in the fossil record is totally expected by the anthropic hypothesis and is completely contrary to what the naturalistic evolutionary hypothesis would expect. Naturalists do not seem to notice that their theory of evolution expects and even demands there should be clear evidence for a genetically and morphologically unique species on earth somewhere since man first suddenly appeared on earth. Indeed there should be many such unambiguous examples that they could produce.

    “Perhaps the most obvious challenge is to demonstrate evolution empirically. There are, arguably, some 2 to 10 million species on earth. The fossil record shows that most species survive somewhere between 3 and 5 million years. In that case, we ought to be seeing small but significant numbers of originations (new species) … every decade.” Keith Stewart Thomson, Professor of Biology and Dean of the Graduate School, Yale University (Nov. -Dec. American Scientist, 1997 pg. 516)

    Naturalists try to assert that evolution of species is happening all the time, all over the place, with a lot of suggestive evidence that is far from being scientifically conclusive. Once again the hard “conclusive” evidence of extensive and exhaustive experimentation betrays the naturalists in his attempts to validate his evolutionary scenario.

    “Whatever we may try to do within a given species, we soon reach limits which we cannot break through. A wall exists on every side of each species. That wall is the DNA coding, which permits wide variety within it (within the gene pool, or the genotype of a species)–but no exit through that wall. Darwin’s gradualism is bounded by internal constraints, beyond which selection is useless.” R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990)
    “The closest science has come to observing and recording actual speciation in animals is the work of Theodosius Dobzhansky in Drosophilia paulistorium fruit flies. But even here, only reproductive isolation, not a new species, appeared.” from page 32 “Acquiring Genomes” Lynn Margulis.

    Many times, naturalists parade examples of reproductive isolation between close sub-species ( Horse & Donkey; Grizzly Bear & Polar Bear; Various Insects etc.. etc..) as stunning proof of evolution. Yet, the hard evidence of exhaustive experimentation indicates that the information for variation was already “programmed” into the parent species’s genetic code and the sub-species, or what is sometimes known as the pure breed, becomes devoid of much of the variety that was present in the genetic code of the parent species. This fact is made especially clear in mans extensive breeding history of domesticated dogs and pure bred horses. Thus, even though a sub-species, or a pure breed, may sometimes be demonstrated to become reproductively isolated, it still has reached a wall in which its possibilities for variation are severely limited in its genetic code when compared to its parent species variability. In fact, from the best evidence we have so far, reproductive isolation is due to the fact that genetic information is being lost, not gained, in the genes of the pure breed or sub-species (genetic entropy). Indeed, the lack of genetic variability in major food crops, such as corn, is a major concern facing scientists today since the genetic variability, that is found in the parent species, gives greater protection from a disease wiping out the entire crop. Even in the differences of human races we find that the younger races (Chinese, Europeans, American Indians, etc.. etc..) are losing genetic information for skin color when compared to the original race of humans that is thought to have migrated out of east Africa some 50,000 years ago. This fact is totally contrary to what we would expect to find if the variation found in the sub-species were truly wrought by random mutations in the DNA generating novel information for variability! And this result is to be totally expected if the parent species were indeed created with a certain amount of flexibility for adaptation to differing environments already programmed in its genetic code! Yet, naturalists conveniently ignore the hard conclusive fact that the variation in the sub-species or pure breed is severely limited when it is compared to the much larger variability that is found in the parent species.
    I would also like to point out that naturalists have always made many false presumptions in the face of unknown facts. For instance, for many years they presumed much of human anatomy was vestigial. Yet once again, they were proven wrong in their presumption.

    “The thyroid gland, pituitary gland, thymus, pineal gland, and coccyx, … once considered useless by evolutionists, are now known to have important functions. The list of 180 “vestigial” structures is practically down to zero. Unfortunately, earlier Darwinists assumed that if they were ignorant of an organ’s function, then it had no function.” Tornado in a Junkyard, the Relentless Myth of Darwinism by James Perloff

    The naturalists don’t ever seem to get it. Although the evidence in the fossil record, extensive research into selective breeding, as well as all other lines of evidence that are scrutinized, is overwhelmingly against them, they never seem to question the fact they may be viewing the evidence from the wrong overall perspective to begin with.
    Naturalists always try to establish scientific validity for evolution by pointing to suggestive similarities while ignoring the foundational principle of science (genetic entropy) that contradicts their preconceived philosophical bias. For example, naturalists say that evolution is proven true when we look at the 98.8% similarity between certain segments of the DNA in a Chimpanzee and compare them with the same segments of DNA of a Human. Yet that similarity is not nearly good enough to be considered “conclusive” scientific proof. For starters, preliminary comparisons of the complete genome of chimps and the complete genome of man yield a similarity of only 96%. Dr. Hugh Ross states the similarity may actually be closer to 85% to 90%. Secondarily, at the protein level only 29% of genes code for the exact same amino acid sequences in chimps and humans (Nature, 2005). As well, our DNA is 92% similar to mice as well as 92% similar to zebrafish (Simmons PhD., Billions of Missing Links). So are we 92% mouse or are we 92% zebrafish? Our DNA is 70% similar to a fruit fly; So are we therefore 70% fruit fly? Our DNA is 75% similar to a worm; So are we 75% worm? No, of course not!! This type of reasoning is simple minded in its approach and clearly flawed in establishing a solid scientific foundation on which to draw valid inferences from! Clearly, we must find if the DNA is flexible enough to accommodate any type of mutations happening to it in the first place. This one point of evidence, (The actual flexibility of DNA to any random mutations), must be firmly established, first and foremost, before we can draw any meaningful inferences from the genetic data we gather from organisms!! Fortunately we, through the miracle of science, can now establish this crucial point of DNA flexibility. The primary thing that is crushing to the evolutionary theory is this fact. Of the random mutations that do occur, and have manifested traits in organisms that can be measured, at least 999,999 out of 1,000,000 (99.9999%) of these mutations to the DNA have been found to produce traits in organisms that are harmful and/or fatal to the life-form having the mutation (Gerrish and Lenski, 1998)! Professional evolutionary biologists are hard-pressed to cite even one clear-cut example of evolution through a beneficial mutation to DNA that would violate the principle of genetic entropy. Although evolutionists try to claim the lactase persistence mutation as a lonely example of a beneficial mutation in humans, lactase persistence is actually a loss of a instruction in the genome to turn the lactase enzyme off, so the mutation clearly does not violate genetic entropy. Yet at the same time, the evidence for the detrimental nature of mutations in humans is clearly overwhelming, for doctors have already cited over 3500 mutational disorders (Dr. Gary Parker).

    “It is entirely in line with the accidental nature of naturally occurring mutations that extensive tests have agreed in showing the vast majority of them to be detrimental to the organisms in its job of surviving and reproducing, just as changes accidentally introduced into any artificial mechanism are predominantly harmful to its useful operation” H.J. Muller (Received a Nobel Prize for his work on mutations to DNA)
    “But there is no evidence that DNA mutations can provide the sorts of variation needed for evolution… There is no evidence for beneficial mutations at the level of macroevolution, but there is also no evidence at the level of what is commonly regarded as microevolution.” Jonathan Wells (PhD. Molecular Biology)

    Man has over 3 billion base pairs of DNA code. Even if there were just a 1% difference of DNA between monkeys and humans, that would still be 30 million base pairs of DNA difference. It is easily shown, mathematically, for it to be fantastically impossible for evolution to ever occur between monkeys and man, or monkeys and anything else for that matter. Since, it is an established fact that at least 999,999 in 1,000,000 of any mutations to DNA will be harmful and/or fatal, then it is also an established fact that there is at least a 999,99930,000,000 to one chance that the monkey will fail to reach man by evolutionary processes. The monkey will hit a dead end of harmful/fatal mutations that will kill him or severely mutilate him before killing him. The poor monkey barely even gets out of the evolutionary starting gate before he is crushed by blind chance. This would still be true even if the entire universe were populated with nothing but monkeys to begin with! This number (999,99930,000,000), is fantastically impossible for any hypothetical beneficial mutation to ever overcome! Worse yet for the naturalists, mathematician William Dembski PhD. has worked out the foundational math that shows the mutation/natural selection scenario to be impossible EVEN IF the harmful/fatal rate for mutation to the DNA were only 50%. The naturalist stamps his feet again and says that symbiotic gene transfer, cross-breeding (yes they, desperately, suggested cross-breeding as a solution), gene duplication and multiplication of chromosomes, alternative splicing etc .. etc .. are the reasons for the changes in DNA between humans and apes. They say these things with utmost confidence without even batting an eye. Incredibly, this is done in spite of solid evidences testifying to the contrary. Indeed, even if a hypothetical beneficial mutation to the DNA ever did occur, it would be of absolutely no use for it would be swallowed in a vast ocean of slightly detrimental mutations that would be below the culling power of natural selection!
    “The theory of gene duplication in its present form is unable to account for the origin of new genetic information” Ray Bohlin, (PhD. in molecular and cell biology)

    “Evolution through random duplications”… While it sounds quite sophisticated and respectable, it does not withstand honest and critical assessment” John C. Sanford (PhD Genetics; inventor of the biolistic “gene gun” process! Holds over 25 patents!)

    The human genome, according to Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft, far, far surpasses in complexity any computer program ever written by man. The data compression (multiple meanings) of some stretches of human DNA is estimated to be up to 12 codes thick (Trifonov, 1989)! No line of computer code ever written by man approaches that level of data compression (poly-functional complexity). Further evidence for the inherent complexity of the DNA is found in a another study. In June 2007, a international team of scientists, named ENCODE, published a study that indicates the genome contains very little unused sequences and, in fact, is a complex, interwoven network. This “complex interwoven network” throughout the entire DNA code makes the human genome severely poly-constrained to random mutations (Sanford; Genetic Entropy, 2005). This means the DNA code is now much more severely limited in its chance of ever having a hypothetical beneficial mutation since almost the entire DNA code is now proven to be intimately connected to many other parts of the DNA code. Thus even though a random mutation to DNA may be able to change one part of an organism for the better, it is now proven much more likely to harm many other parts of the organism that depend on that one particular part being as it originally was. This “interwoven network” finding is extremely bad news for naturalists!

    Naturalists truly believe you can get such staggering complexity of information in the DNA from some dead process based on blind chance. They cannot seem to fathom that any variation to a basic component in a species is going to require precise modifications to the entire range of interconnected components related to that basic component. NO natural law based on blind chance, would have the wisdom to implement the multitude of precise modifications on the molecular level in order to effect a positive change from one species to another. Only a “vastly superior intelligence” would have the wisdom to know exactly which amino acids in which proteins, which letters in the DNA code and exactly which repositioning of the 25 million nucleosomes (DNA spools) etc .. etc .. would need to be precisely modified to effect a positive change in a species. For men to imagine blind chance has the inherently vast wisdom to create such stunning interrelated complexity is even more foolish than some pagan culture worshipping a dead stone statue as their god and creator. Even if evolution of man were true, then only God could have made man through evolution. For only He would have the vast wisdom to master the complexity that would be required to accomplish such a thing. Anyone who fails to see this fails to appreciate the truly astonishing interwoven complexity of life at the molecular level. Even though God could have created us through “directed evolution”, the fossil record (Lucy fossil proven not ancestral in 2007) and other recent “hard” evidence (Neanderthal mtDNA sequenced and proven “out of human range”) indicates God chose to create man as a completely unique and distinct species. But, alas, our naturalistic friend is as blind and deaf as the blind chance he relies on to produce such changes and cannot bring himself to face this truth. Most hardcore naturalists I’ve met, by and large, are undaunted when faced with such overwhelming evidence for Divine Intelligence and are convinced they have conclusive proof for naturalistic evolution somewhere. They will tell us exactly what it is when they find it. The trouble with this line of thinking for naturalists is they will always take small pieces of suggestive evidence and focus on them, to the exclusion of the overriding vast body of conclusive evidence that has already been established. They fail to realize that they are viewing the evidence from the wrong overall perspective to begin with. After listening to their point of view describing (with really big words) some imagined evolutionary pathway on the molecular level, sometimes I think they might just be right. Then when I examine their evidence in detail and find it wanting, I realize they are just good story tellers with small pieces of “suggestive” evidence ignoring the overwhelming weight of “hard” evidence that doesn’t fit their naturalistic worldview. Instead of them thinking,” WOW look how God accomplishes life on the molecular level,” they think” WOW look what dead, dumb and blind chance accomplished on the molecular level.” Naturalists have an all too human tendency to over-emphasize and sometimes even distort the small pieces of suggestive evidence that are taken out of context from the overwhelming body of “conclusive” evidence. This is done just to support their own preconceived philosophical bias of naturalism. This is clearly the practice of very bad science, since they have already decided what the evidence must say prior to their investigation.
    I could help them find the conclusive proof for evolution they are so desperately looking for if they would just listen to me. For I know exactly where this conclusive proof for evolution is; it is right there in their own imagination. What really amazes me is that most hardcore naturalists are people trained in exacting standards of science. Yet, they are accepting such piddling and weak suggestive evidence in the face of such overwhelming conclusive evidence to begin with. This blatant deception; dead, dumb, blind chance has the inherent wisdom to produce staggering complexity, is surprisingly powerful in its ability to deceive! That it should ensnare so many supposedly rational men and women is remarkable. Then, again, I have also been easily misled by blatant deception many times in my life, so, maybe it is not that astonishing after all. Maybe it is just a painful and all too human weakness we all share that allows us to be so easily deceived.

  272. #273 bokanovsky process
    August 28, 2007

    “Then, again, I have also been easily misled by blatant deception many times in my life…”

    Indeed – looks like you can add another instance to your lifetime tally.

    Aside from the honesty in this statement, I’m not shocked by it at all. Some reading for you, to help you understand yourself better…

    http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf

  273. #274 Stanton
    August 28, 2007

    So, then, Mr Bonf, how does your “theistic philosophy” solve the problem of interpreting the fossils of Cambrian organisms, and why is it better than current trends in Paleontology?
    It’s quite obvious you don’t understand a single thing you’re copying and pasting.

  274. #275 Blake Stacey
    August 28, 2007

    (bursts into song)

    I am the very model of a modern major species. . .

  275. #276 Ken Cope
    August 28, 2007

    Martin Selkirk wrote,
    (in response to my citing MG’s review of anthropic nonsense)
    Gardner referred to himself as a “philosophical theist,”* but had the decency and intellectual integrity to acknowledge that he did not have any arguments that an atheist would or should find convincing. Bravo to that.

    Gardner was a fideist, a theist because it makes him feel good, an act of deliberate faith in that he can find, despite his search, no evidence for the existence of the object of his faith nor any rational reason to believe, other than that it comforts him. Gardner’s search for reasons to believe is as exhaustive as anybody’s ever has been.

    Gardner’s would be an eminently honest variety of theism were it not for one of its consequences. With respect to the problem of consciousness, he identifies as a mysterian, along with Roger Penrose, the mathematician for whom Gardner composed a foreword for a book trying to show that consciousness is made of Platonic unexplainium, and will never be the property of a machine. That Penrose invokes quantum woo to do so should be embarrassing enough, but such human exceptionalism should be even more embarrassing.

    The idea of some special essence that survives physical death may be comforting to some, but does nothing to comfort me. If personal survival of identity is stressing you out and you need to resort to Sunday School fairy tales (when there is so much superior writing in the fairy tale genre these days) to get you through the night, all you can do is work to believe, in the absence of evidence, with increasing fervor. If you’re a physicalist, then the nature of subjectivity and the biological processes of the brain at least have a pragmatic chance of yielding a degree of understanding of the nature of consiciousness, and some practical hope for life extension, or personality survival, if that’s the sort of anxiety that makes you lose sleep.

    The only thing that makes fideism comparatively honest is that the fideist can eschew irrational apologetics, like Lewis’s, to innoculate himself against reason and evidence, because he just bloody well feels like clapping for Tinkerbelle. When somebody like The Spy Who Lies to Us abandons science to pursue his favorite fairy tale, regaling us with his complete ignorance of science, it’s clear that he needs to displace the incursions of reason and science with cut and paste scientesque nonsense to maintain the fervence of his clapping. Pretending his reasoniness and scientificalness is godly, while engaging us evil and materialist infidels, makes it clear to the rest of us that he’s made a break with reality to live in his fantasy world. That sort of behavior is usually amusing, and mostly harmless, at least as long as he is not a danger to himself and others). James Bong (wish I’d thought of that one) is clearly as dishonest with himself as he is with us.

    See [Gardner's] The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener. I miss that one from my Gardner collection, since a theist co-worker outright refused to return or replace it.

  276. #277 frog
    August 28, 2007

    Once again Bond (James Bond!), give me the equations for the Great Engineer in the Sky. Give me the decision making process by which we arrive at dogs and archaea. Tell me why chimps are structurally similar to humans – is it just that God lacks creativity? Why are spinal columns so vastly ill-engineered – God is smart enough to design photosynthesis, yet too damn stupid to realize that distributing mass over a flexible horizontal structure is more robust than setting that structure vertically?

    Before a critique can even be accepted as good faith, a better offer must be on the table. Take out the log in your eye first!

    And by the way, oxygen levels were lower during the Jurassic. Guess what? There were still large tetrapods – adapted to lower oxygen consumption.

    Finally, verbal diarrhea does not advance your position. It suggests a mild form of schizophrenia.

  277. #278 Bond, James Bond
    August 28, 2007

    Josh
    You seem sincere in your defense of your point so I’ll address your concern. The photosynthetic evidence I cite is a chemical nature. Thanks for pointing out the misconception. I did not mean to convey fossil evidence. Yet my point is still valid since only photosynthetic life is known to produce the 2 lines of evidence I cite.
    As for the other criticisms you state these seem to be because your quibbling over details that are inconsequential to the focus of my entries. The main point to my entries is to point out that Theism, when taken as a hypothesis in which to work from such as materialism currently is used in science, then the Theistic philosophy is clearly more robust than the materialistic philosophy.

    Your main gripe that I have taken offense to is that Theism makes no predictions, Yet I showed you its strength by pointing out its predictions compared to Materialism. And the leave you with one more prediction of Theism. Theism will predict that the missing matter problem for Gravity will not be solved until a Theistic aproach is used in interpreting it.
    Mark my words on that prediction if you want.

  278. #279 Stanton
    August 28, 2007

    Your main gripe that I have taken offense to is that Theism makes no predictions, Yet I showed you its strength by pointing out its predictions compared to Materialism.

    You have shown how “Theism” is more robust than actual Science, especially since you have not bothered to explain how “Theim” can explain the organisms that arose during the Cambrian Explosion.

  279. #280 Stanton
    August 28, 2007

    Your main gripe that I have taken offense to is that Theism makes no predictions, Yet I showed you its strength by pointing out its predictions compared to Materialism.

    You NOT have shown how “Theism” is more robust than actual Science, especially since you have not bothered to explain how “Theim” can explain the organisms that arose during the Cambrian Explosion.

  280. #281 Bond, james Bond
    August 28, 2007

    Stanton you state: You NOT have shown how “Theism” is more robust than actual Science, especially since you have not bothered to explain how “Theim” can explain the organisms that arose during the Cambrian Explosion.

    That’s where a rigorous study of brain/consciousness interaction will be very fruitful. Once we find how the “higher realm’ interacts with the physical realm we will be more able to answer how complex information is implemented into this “physical” realm.

  281. #282 frog
    August 28, 2007

    Bond, James Bond:

    Once we find how the “higher realm’ interacts with the physical realm we will be more able to answer how complex information is implemented into this “physical” realm.

    Very well then. Shut up and get to work. Come back when you can actually give us predictions of that kind. When you can show why God is such an imbecile that he balanced all our mass on a vertical support.

    Until then, all I can assume is you lack good faith, and will continue with your cheap rhetorical trick of putting the entire burden of proof on your opponents. That is a lowly, obvious, lawyerly trick, which makes one wonder about the ethical roots of your “philosophy”.

    You see, how we do it in science is that we actually produce an alternative theory with predictive power before we spend all day picking at our opponents. We have to show that our alternative is actually more powerful, more productive, before someone will take us seriously. We can’t just tell a couple of “Just-so” stories and call them predictions.

    But then, I guess science has ethical standards.

  282. #283 PZ Myers
    August 28, 2007

    Do that again, Bond, and you are banned.

    That’s not a coherent comment — it’s a pastiche of various mindless creationist nonsense that I can find scattered around the web. If all you can do is parrot garbage, I’m not going to keep you around.

    Be original, be cogent, try to make a point in a sensible way.

  283. #284 MartinM
    August 28, 2007

    Theism will predict that the missing matter problem for Gravity will not be solved until a Theistic aproach is used in interpreting it.

    And why would a theistic approach mimic the existence of dark matter? Does God have mass now?

  284. #285 frog
    August 28, 2007

    Secret Agent Man:

    What evidence is found for the appearance of all species of life on earth, and is man the last species to appear on earth?

    Ever heard of that little known species, Canis Familiaris? Can’t you even bother to think?

    Or do a google search on “recent speciation”? You get a long list of spontaneous plant speciation events from this century, much less since humans arose. Lazy dolt.

  285. #286 Venger
    August 28, 2007
    Theism will predict that the missing matter problem for Gravity will not be solved until a Theistic aproach is used in interpreting it.

    And why would a theistic approach mimic the existence of dark matter? Does God have mass now?
    Posted by: MartinM | August 28, 2007 04:23 PM

    No, apparently God is hiding the rest of the universe behind his back, and till we accept this we’ll never understand how gravity in the universe really works. Bond can’t seem to get past the fact the entire explanatory power of his theistic (he’s not even hiding it as anthropic) theory is “God said it was so, no bugger off or go to hell”, predicts nothing, since apparently god is a deceptive schizophrenic imbecile.

    Bond, while you are trying to explain the staggeringly bad design of the human spine, and how it was adapted from earlier uses, you can try explaining how cancer fits into an intelligent designed species.

  286. #287 Inky
    August 28, 2007

    What is really interesting is that people like Bond think that the world works like the Republican Party.

    “Naturalists” (whatever the feck that really means) aren’t a cohesive group. Scientists DELIGHT in finding flaws in the works of other scientists. Scientists say that if something was done, could it have been done better, give more solid results, etc.?

    I have *never* heard a group of scientists say, “Wow, man, this data, well, it really doesn’t match my HYPOTHESIS, so, um, let’s all agree not to talk about it. As a matter of fact, guys, I think I’ll have you all sign this confidentiality agreement so that I won’t be forced to put strychnine in your guacamole.”

    It’s mind-boggling. Only people who try to deceive others by hiding inconvenient facts, or, better yet, twisting the facts so that you claim that they say exactly the opposite of what they mean, could possibly think that way.

    Theism is not a theory! It’s not a hypothesis! It’s a Guess! A wish! And a particularly unimaginative one, at that.

    That little rant about how you’re not a zebrafish or a worm (thank Zeus; they are far more honest and unassuming than you are) shows a complete and utter lack of understanding of what the hell we scientists are saying when we tell you that your proteins are similar to any other organism. A similarity of “only” 96% (ONLY 96%?? Only the most anal high school prep yuppie valedictorian would possibly find 96% insignificant, but that’s irrelevant–what matters is that 96% is *statistically significant*) in the DNA sequence tells you that your building blocks are much the same, your proteins are much the same, and perhaps some of the directions for the turning on of those proteins are also similar.

    There is no magic protein that makes you, YOU. It’s the cumulative effect that makes the difference; and no, it’s not “overwhelming”. We’ll just need some time to tweeze all those pathways out. Harder to do on chimps, much easier to do on mice or zebrafish, for example, and for ethical and financial reasons only.

    By the way, if you don’t believe in evolution, don’t take pharmaceuticals. They’re all tested for efficacy in animals before going into clinical trials. That would make no sense if we had not evolved from common ancestors and thus were not similar physiologically.

    A simple protein sequence alignment for hemoglobin comparing several different species would illustrate this beautifully.

    Or are you going to say that God designed hemoglobin and just stuck it in everything he made?

  287. #288 Inky
    August 28, 2007

    Btw, in addendum: the actual amino acid sequence of a protein matters less than the properties of the amino acids themselves. There are stretches of protein that can have substitutions of, for example, one hydrophobic protein for another hydrophobic protein. The end results of hydrophobicity on that particular section of protein will remain the same, provide that the amino acid is not so dramatically different in size so as to change the 3D shape too much.

    Proteins are also plastic; they change shape and such, so don’t think of them as blocks of wood that need to have the exact microdimensional attributes to react with their target. Sometimes the changes just mean that the proteins don’t work quite as efficiently on one target, but might actually work better or just the same on another. It’s not as if they explode and the whole animal disintegrates.

  288. #289 Inky
    August 28, 2007

    haha, sorry, I meant one hydrophobic AMINO ACID for another.

  289. #290 Ray C.
    August 28, 2007

    When someone tells me not to push the big red button, I just can’t help myself.

    And either God knew this, or He did not. If He did, then He set Adam and Eve up. If He did not, He is astonishingly naive.

  290. #291 Stanton
    August 28, 2007

    That’s where a rigorous study of brain/consciousness interaction will be very fruitful. Once we find how the “higher realm’ interacts with the physical realm we will be more able to answer how complex information is implemented into this “physical” realm.

    And how does this jibberjabber of yours answer my question of how your “Theism” describes the rise of Cambrian organisms?

  291. #292 Bond, James Bond
    August 28, 2007

    Martin M asked: And why would a theistic approach mimic the existence of dark matter? Does God have mass now? ,,,,And Hopefully this response makes the point correctly enough and meets Dr. Myers standards.

    Materialism is committed to explaining everything that exists in this universe to chance acting on a material basis that has always existed. Surprisingly, this requires explaining invisible things such as consciousness and the force of gravity (space/time curvature) to a material basis. Scientists and mathematicians have had to invent “missing dark matter” to account for an “excessive” amount of gravity in the universe to keep the equations of gravity from becoming ineffective. Theism is not committed into inventing such hypothetical matter and is free to expect the “invisible” force of gravity to arise independent of the matter from a “primary higher dimension” in order to enable life to exist in this universe.
    Scientists estimate that 90 to 99 percent of the total mass of the universe is missing matter. Bruce H. Margon, chairman of the astronomy department at the University of Washington, told the New York Times, “It’s a fairly embarrassing situation to admit that we can’t find 90 percent of the universe”

    The philosophy of Materialism has a huge problem, to put it mildly, if it can’t find 95% of the material of this universe it insists is suppose to exist. What’s more the problem may be intractable for materialism, because the “missing matter” had to be “invented” to keep the equations of gravity, that explain gravity (space/time curvature) to a material basis, from becoming ineffective. Yet, there very well may be a way around this problem with the general relativity equations. If scientists and mathematicians were to treat the force of gravity as a primary constituent of the universe and were to treat matter as subordinate to gravity (as Theism postulates), then the equations that explain gravity may very well be able to be reconfigured, or reinterpreted, to reflect this proposed truth found from the Theistic perspective. The Theistic postulation would state that space is curved from a higher dimension to enable matter to exist, and to have an existence that is conducive for life to exist in this universe. In fact, gravity is already found to be conducive (finely-tuned) for life at the level of star formation. That is to say, gravity is found in the anthropic principle (which is actually a Theistic postulation) to be exactly what it needs to be in order to allow the right type of stars to form, for the right duration of time, to allow life to be possible in this universe. Thus, the Theistic postulation for gravity has already found preliminary validation in empirical evidence. The question that truly needs to be asked, to solve this missing matter mystery, is not the vain materialistic question of “Where is the missing matter in this universe?” but is the Theistic question of “Why is it necessary for this precise amount of gravity to emanate from a higher dimension in order for life to exist in this universe?” It seems a preliminary answer to this question is already found in the anthropic principle once again. If gravity were not at it’s “just right” value in the big bang, a universe conducive to life would not exist. That is to say, gravity is found to act as the counterbalance of the big bang. If gravity were weaker, the big bang would have been “too explosive” and matter would have been too thinly spread out to allow the formation of galaxies, stars and planets. Thus, life in this universe would not have been possible. If gravity were a bit stronger at the big bang, matter would have collapsed in on itself shortly after the big bang. Again life, as we know it, would not have been possible. Thus in the anthropic principle, we already find a preliminary reason for the huge amount of “missing matter’ to exist, whereas the materialistic philosophy can postulate no reason why the matter is missing and is left vainly searching for non-existent matter in this universe to account for the “excessive” gravity that is found in this universe. I believe the amount of “missing matter” can be further refined to the anthropic principle. For instance, the missing matter may be further refined to reflect the fact that the huge amount of missing matter actually allows us the truly fortunate privilege of scanning the universe unimpeded with our telescopes ( “The Privileged Planet” by Guillermo Gonzalez Ph.D.). That is to say, if the huge amount of missing matter actually did exist, the universe would be a lot less “see through” than what it currently is. Our knowledge of the history of the universe would suffer dramatically as a result of this reduced visibility. As well, it is very likely that an answer for why the galaxies rotate at the much greater “unpredicted” value that they do will be found in the anthropic principle instead of the materialistic philosophy. As pointed out earlier, the Theistic postulations in science have already provided many correct predictions with stunning empirical validations. Predictions that materialism not only did not predict but was blatantly incorrect on. Thus, it is only natural to look to the Theistic postulations to answer the many remaining questions we have about the universe. To give further evidence of this “missing matter” problem, all matter is reducible to energy as illustrated by Einstein’s famous equation of e=mc2. Thus it may be plainly said that all material in the universe has been created out of energy. Yet energy in and of itself does not produce the force of gravity (space-time curvature). In fact, energy has exactly the opposite effect of gravity. Energy is thought, and somewhat verified, to actually make space “expand”, by “exactly the right amount” to allow life to be possible. Put simply, matter is not justified by the overall empirical evidence in science to have a totally equal status with gravity in gravity equations. Theism is free to expect gravity to arise independently of material objects from a higher dimension without ever having to “invent” matter that will, by all current indications of empirical evidence, never be found in the “physical” dimension of this universe but will only be found when taking into consideration the “primary higher dimension” of the Theistic philosophy.
    The following is a released statement from science experts that gives further illustration to this “missing material” problem of the universe.

    The abstract of the September 1006 Report of the Dark Energy Task Force (which, “was established by the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee [AAAC] and the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel [HEPAP] as a joint sub-committee to advise the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation on future dark energy research”) says: “Dark energy appears to be the dominant component of the physical Universe, yet there is no persuasive theoretical explanation for its existence or magnitude. The acceleration of the Universe is, along with dark matter, the observed phenomenon that most directly demonstrates that our (materialistic) theories of fundamental particles and gravity are either incorrect or incomplete. Most experts believe that nothing short of a revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics will be required to achieve a full understanding of the cosmic acceleration. For these reasons, the nature of dark energy ranks among the very most compelling of all outstanding problems in physical science. These circumstances demand an ambitious observational program to determine the dark energy properties as well as possible.”
    The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. As well light has been proven to be timeless by Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Therefore energy most likely, from honest appraisal of empirical evidence, arose from some other “higher timeless” dimension prior to the big bang. As such, since the fundamental force of gravity does not arise from energy and also travels at the “timeless” speed of light, it falls to reason gravity must also arise from this other “primary higher timeless” dimension. Many people who do not believe in God say “Just show me God and I will believe!” Yet the foundation of this “material” universe that is found in relativity and quantum mechanics blatantly displays actions that defy our concepts of time and space. Defying time and space is generally regarded by most people to be a miraculous occurrence. It is considered to be a miraculous occurrence because it blatantly defies all materialistic presumptions that have been put forth! Indeed, the foundation of this universe has the fingerprints of God all over it.
    Many times materialist object to theist by saying “God did it that way is not a scientific answer.” Well I have news for the materialists “God DID do it that way and the scientific answer is to try and figure out how God did it that way! As demonstrated repeatedly by the failed predictions of materialism, the materialistic philosophy is a blatant deception that only impedes further true scientific progress.
    To remedy the Gravity problem it is necessary to define, as best as we can, this “primary higher dimension” that our universe came from and to shed the last vestiges of materialism that are blinding us to what is right in front of us! Having a proper mathematical foundation for gravity in science may very well enable even more wonderful breakthroughs in science. This problem of missing matter is a blatant gap in man’s knowledge and my assertion is simply that the mathematical remedy for the problems in gravity equations will not be solved until the proper Theistic approach is used in solving them.

    Colossians 1:17
    He was before all else began and it is His power that Holds everything together.

  292. #293 Stanton
    August 28, 2007

    And how does this explain the forms and diversity of Cambrian organisms better than what Paleontology says about them, Mr Bond?

  293. #294 Inky
    August 28, 2007

    I must not be reading Bond’s post right, I think I’m bleeding in my brain from the effort.

    So …

    God is Gravity???

  294. #295 Stanton
    August 28, 2007

    I think that’s what he copy&pasted.

  295. #296 Scrabcake
    August 28, 2007

    I don’t pretend I can add much more to this conversation than what has been already said, but I would like to summarize the thoughts I had on this argument.
    Lewis argues that there are a few rules of right and wrong shared by almost all people in the world. He also argues that all people break these rules and all people know when they are breaking these rules and are ashamed of it. In short, he beleives that everyone is a sinner. Logical enough, and, I think, true, though I would be reluctant to use the word “sin” as it implies a religious context to right and wrong and also wrongs on which not everyone can agree. ie. Some beleive that being gay and murdering people are both sins. I would agree on the later but not on the former. The former is NOT a law of nature, as many people don’t see it as such…and the later IS pretty much supported by everyone though they might ignore it.
    Though you did not publish a further ammount of this text, it seems like he’s going to use this as a springboard to say that this fairly innocuous statement forms part of the basis for Christianity and therefore we should all be Christians because Christianity is “right.”
    There are billions of people in the world that subscribe to this moral code but do not follow Christianity..or any religion at all. The moral code is a module that applies to MANY religions and is divorced from any beleif in a man called Jesus who was an incarnation of god and died on a cross for. your. sins.

  296. #297 Blake Stacey
    August 28, 2007

    bond, james bond copied this paragraph —

    Scientists estimate that 90 to 99 percent of the total mass of the universe is missing matter. Bruce H. Margon, chairman of the astronomy department at the University of Washington, told the New York Times, “It’s a fairly embarrassing situation to admit that we can’t find 90 percent of the universe”

    from this website. Doesn’t bode particularly well for the originality of the rest of it.

  297. #298 Stanton
    August 28, 2007

    Doesn’t bode well for the coherence of his “reply,” either, Blake.

  298. #299 Keith Douglas
    August 28, 2007

    Ken Cope: Ironic, then, given that Christianity is Neoplatonism + Judaism to a first approximation.

    God being gravity seems to be a sort of truncated Newtonianism. (Newton seems to have thought it possible that gravity is “done” by direct divine action.)

  299. #300 Randi Schimnosky
    August 28, 2007

    Bond, james bond said “Materialism is committed to explaining everything that exists in this universe to chance acting on a material basis that has always existed.”.

    You’ve made this sort of statement over and over and have based your entire hypothesis of “god” on it. That’s a straw man, that is not what science and scientists believe, the basis of your entire argument is fallacious. Evolution and the structure of the universe are most definitely not strictly up to chance, they are bounded by laws of nature and physics that make certain outcomes much more likely than others. You’ve made assertions and given specific statistics on what is highly speculative and will almost certainly at some point in the future be shown to be wrong. Contrary to your lengthy and volumnous assertions we don’t know that there has been ANY “fine-tuning” of universal constants like the speed of light, force of gravity, molecular attractions and so on. It may be that these values HAVE to be where they are, that it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to be any other value, we simply don’t know and for you to assert highly speculative theories suggest we do is poppcock.

    What you’re doing is the equivalent of saying that when water appears in the sky there are a virtually infinite number of places it could end up but we always find it at the lowest point on the planet and the odds of that happening given all the places in the sky and high altitudes on the planet it could go are some astronomical number therefore god must be directing it because this couldn’t happen by mere chance alone. You’re doing the equivalent of ignoring the laws of physics that says water goes to the lowest point taking the least energy pathway. It may well be the same sort of thing with gravitation, the speed of light, magnetic attraction, and the dozens of other things you maentioned, that there are specific rules that prevent these things from having values anything other than what they are and the odds are not, as you say astronomically against them being so, but a virtual certainty. This is certainly the case with evolution, contrary to your insane assertion that this is merely a matter of random chance evolution is constrained by environmental niches and selection pressures which make some outcomes of occiasional mutations much more likely to be selected for than others, it is not a random process at all.

    Contrary to your assertion that the vast majority of random mutations in DNA must be destructive it may well be that DNA has evolved the ability to mutate in such a way that changes are restricted within a narrow band that prevents so much change as to be destructive. DNA I hypothesize has the ability to change only a limited amount such that it retains its functionality and changes are sufficiently small that the entire mechanism doesn’t get out of whack as you’ve suggested.

    The idea that selective breeding demonstrates that species can vary slightly but come up against a boundary that prevents major change doesn’t hold water to me at all. Selective breeding doesn’t occurr over the massive number of generations that evolution does and doesn’t see the product of such breeding being repeatedly rebreed into the general population thus ensuring a diversity of genetic material while retaining the advantageous mutations. The idea that we can see significant changes in the morphology of species with selective breeding and evolution (polar bears from grizzlies for example) and that that process somehow can’t continue and result in an entirely different species doesn’t hold water – if it can happen to a small degree it can happen to a large degree.

    As to the “precambrian explosion” you’ve been highly selective (biased) in what you’ve reported on here. Estimates for the duration of this period range up to 80 million years which is a very long time within which evolution can occur. It may be that the species which were developing prior to the “precambrian explosion” weren’t fossilized because the geographical layers prior to that time weren’t suitable for fossilization and contrary to your assertion that one soft bodied fossil was found meaning that all would necessarily be found this may not be the case. The fossil record is a random search and there are periods where many fossils are found and periods where relatively few are found, we only have what is there, we do not have an even distribution of fossils from all time periods contrary to the false impression that you tried to give that we do. It is too be expected that there are gaps in the fossil record and this may be simply the case with pre-cambrian fossils.

    It is also possible that animal population levels were much lower in pre-cambrian periods and that the odds of finding any fossils are simply against us. Populations often experience geometric explosions and this may be the case with the “cambrian explosio” – not that ancesters didn’t exist but that the existed in such small numbers that we simply have been unable to find them.

    It is also possible that some major event happend at the beigining of the cambrian period made it possible for life to diversify in a way that was not possible before. It may be that oxygen levels finally reached a point that could sustain a diversity of life or that meterorites caused a mass extinction that allowed life to rapidly diversify into newly vacated niches.

    Contrary to your false assertion species didn’t simply appear in the “precambrian explosion” and then evolution ceased for the next 500 million years, major groupings of species like reptiles, mammals, and birds appeared afterwards. Regardless of the failure of the fossil record to show much transistion in the “precambrian explosion” obviously much evolution was going on afterwords. Transitional forms such as archeopterix, a species between a dinosaur and a bird have been found and this totally disputes your lies that animals only appeared in once state and no fossils show a change into other animals.

    Bond, james bond said “Yet the foundation of this “material” universe that is found in relativity and quantum mechanics blatantly displays actions that defy our concepts of time and space. Defying time and space is generally regarded by most people to be a miraculous occurrence. It is considered to be a miraculous occurrence because it blatantly defies all materialistic presumptions that have been put forth! Indeed, the foundation of this universe has the fingerprints of God all over it.”

    Nonsense. The operation of modern electronics in a car seems to defy time and space to most people like me, that doesn’t mean there’s any supernatural reason behind its working. Relativity and and quantum mechanics most certainly don’t “blatantly defy all” scientific presumptions and the fact that these are theories on the edge of our understanding means that they may be, and likely are, wrong to a degree and that at some point in the future we’ll find logical natural explanations for any discrepancies we now see. The idea that if we don’t know what caused something, or how it works then “god did it” is totally unsupported by any logic, evidence or science. There’s never been any proven example of the supernatural and we have no reason to believe there ever will be.

    The fact that the bible is the source of the idea of a god is solid proof against such a being, at least such a being as described in the bible. A loving and just god that allows belief in him and his religion of preference to be debatable and who then eternally tortures people for innocently believing otherwise simply cannot exist. If it weren’t for the bible you wouldn’t even be proposing the idea of a god creating the universe and the god of the bible is most certainly not remotely consistent with a universe billions of years old and evolution over billions of years. The bible says the universe was created 6000 years ago and that all the animals were created within a 6 day period – there is no room for the ‘pre-cambrian explosion” in the bible either.

    That we don’t know some of how the universe came to be or the entire fossil record doesn’t prove a god in any way. The fact that all existing religious concepts of god(s) are farcical strongly suggests that no one today would come to a god conclusion strictly based upon the evidence we see before us. Resorting to magic as an explanation violates everything we do know about our world, magic has never been convincingly found to be an explanation for anything and has repeatedly been shown to be the wrong explanation in everything from the weather to disease. Given natural scientific explanations have been found to explain one thing after another and another and another and magic has NEVER been found we have no reason to believe magic/god will ever be a valid explanation and every reason to believe nothing but natural scientific explanations will continue to be found for everything.

  300. #301 Jim McDowell
    August 28, 2007

    Inky #203, Woozy #224, Duane #234

    Good on you all to respond in various ways. Part of my conviction, expressed merely in thumbnail form in this forum, comes from exposure during the last 10 years to the John Templeton Foundation for Science and Religion. http://www.templeton.org Sure, money can drive a lot of things, and there has been a generous underwriting by Sir John, but leaving that aside, the man’s vision to open up a dialog between two areas that in the last 150 years have become antagonistic (because of supposed competition for the minds of people and some horrible misunderstandings in the area of epistemology) has proven to be quite noble.

    Modern Science long ago staked out its field of operation by defining itself to be limited to material/physical/ reproducible phenomena. It was a good decision. It is not the intention or prerogative of science to deny other methods of enquiry and learning, nor does science need to resist dialog with those so involved. But it usually doesn’t incorporate conclusions from other learning methodologies. (Embarrassing to note that there are science-philes who have axes to grind rather than dialogs to carry on with the other disciplines, bitterly at times.) If we take theology to be one such method, it admits the possibility of divine revelation and has its metaphysical quality. It should be obvious that anyone dealing with revelation really shouldn’t have the intention and certainly no prerogative to force science to conform to its conclusions. (Let me not even get close to the piles of rotting amateur theology that stink up the dialogical parlour.) The Templeton Foundation believes, as I do, that dialog is, like the brackish coastal river estuaries, extremely fruitful in terms of intellectual life that can flourish at the point of mixing.

    As a disciple of Jesus Christ with both training in and passion for science practiced in its defined paradigm, I find it exhilarating to be in the fresh water, the salt water, and the brackish mix from time to time, so to speak. Each environment has its paradigm for enquiry and learning, and then there should be a paradigm for dialog. I think it is overdue.

    Science and theology both have to contend with the academic discipline of history also–which has its own epistemological paradigm. And so on. Just as one needs to have some multicultural skills to live gracefully, let’s say, in nearby-to-me multicultural Toronto, so interdisciplinary (and especially epistemological) skills are requisite to fruitful dialog in issues of what participants come to believe to be true. Statements like this “Materialism has failed miserably in its predictive power for science” (lifted from one of the more prolific posters, unfortunately a theist) don’t take dialog anywhere, do they?–given that the preponderance of phenomena are natural, explainable in materialist terms by materialist theories. I say preponderance because only a materialIST would rule out, for example a virgin birth a priori. But, we don’t have to worry about predictive power for virgin births…oops, maybe we do…no longer can ignore issues in reproductive technology. But there is a point nonethless in favour science’s materialist bias.

    OK, a brief response to each who mentioned me. Inky, please understand that I choose to talk about commitment to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, which is a relationship. Sure faith or a set of beliefs have their roles, and there is also the historical record (fact) of his resurrection and ascension that provides something beyond a simple faith basis for having such a relationship. You made some good points, and, with you, I hate dumbass “Christian”(and for that matter, non-Christian) statements with passion. I am extremely sorry you haven’t met a person transformed by the gospel. I have met so many, from so many cultures. I consider such transformation to be strong, reproducible empirical evidence to support the value of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

    Woozy, very good thoughts in your post, and a sense of kind dialog, also. Transcendent and imminent are well defined and foundational terms in theology, and you’ve worked through some of the ideas. Perhaps the idea of a God who is First Cause, the Ground of Being, and Spirit in dimensions that we don’t perceive because we exist in x, y and z only strikes us as fairly transcendent, while Jesus the Christ, with a birth canal experience, hunger, blood and guts, ability to grieve at a friend’s death, and the need to walk from Jerusalem to Galilee is rather immanent in comparison. As you enquire about “belief” in the transcendent or divine, and relate that to “knowing” these things, I might talk about my perception or experience of the transcendent and my knowing in the sense of becoming acquainted with in contrast with knowing in the sense of having a correct or rational answer/fact. I stress being a disciple of Jesus Christ, implying a relationship, in contrast to asserting some historical “facts” about him. I’m trying to put myself in your headspace (don’t know you too well yet) to see if that goes anywhere for you. I perceive your entire post to be written relationally, e.g. “I guess I’m just trying see see things from the other side’s eyes.” Nice. How do I “believe?” It’s a question I never had to answer before, but I think the words “experience” and “relate” have to be at the centre (yes, I spell Canadianly except for “dialogue”) of the answer. I came across a book on Amazon, I think, that talks about the spirituality of human beings being fully grounded in their physicalness. Written by a Christian no less. Referring to it may be a non-sequitur, but it is interesting to think of genes that give us spirituality, and where they came from.

    Duane… I was using “so” colloquially, SO you’re right–I should’ve said “therefore.” While lots of speculations exist about manuscript questions on the Bible, middle of the road textual criticism is pretty satisfied that multitudinous manuscripts allow reconstruction of the originals almost exactly. The Dead Sea scrolls confirmed earlier reconstructive work, particularly with Isaiah. The Biblical text has a variety of literary forms. The creation narratives are best thought of as mythic…but they’re reasonable myths…no anthropomorphic gods cavorting, birthing the universe as offspring; they have a transcendent God getting things off with a bang, calling order from the formless chaos, then nurturing life in a variety of forms on the increasingly hospitable earth, with humankind showing up and capable of relationship with him. [It's been suggested the sun was visible later than plants showed up because a cloudy atmosphere obscured it, but I don't think you have to do stuff like that with a mythic story.] The myth is compatible with the postulated evolutionary synthesis’s account and provides meaning. But what of the rest of the Bible? A good deal of it is historical narrative (with archaelogical science confirming it repeatedly). If one understands that human beings have progressively discerned more and more of God’s character as he self-reveals from the beginning, you get a body of coherent historically based knowledge gathered over a span of cultures and times. It’s not science because the epistemology is historical and theological, but it is knowledge out of which a theory of God (theology) emerges. On another point you raised concerning the numerous (but not invariable) failures where there is little or no life transformation through the gospel, it is necessary for Christians to acknowledge them and to learn from them. Sadly, all too many in Christendom have never been learners following Jesus Christ (disciples), from high clerics on down to simple parishioners. They missed the point. They weren’t aware or willing to embrace the gospel and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. Believing certain theological propositions to be true and fighting over them is not the same at all as knowing and emulating him as Saviour and Lord (infinitely wise boss). As I asserted early in in my posting, relationality is at least as vital as rationality when it comes to what we do about God and the metaphysical and how we live. I respect your journey, Duane, and wish you well as you continue it.

    I leave off here…sorry to be so windy. Don’t mention my name further and I’ll not clutter the board more.

  301. #302 Inky
    August 29, 2007

    Jim:

    Out of curiosity, what “historical record (fact)” exists documenting a resurrected anybody? Other than the Bible, that is? As for ascending in to heaven–does that mean Jesus died again?

    Seems like a short shrifted resurrection, really.

    I just figure, if you’re going to bring someone back from the dead to prove a point, you might want to make sure quite a few people witness this miracle. As a matter of fact, I think a Good Lord in His Wisdom really could have done better. Why not have a Christ *now*, when we can hook him up to instruments and film him and such? Have him fully, undeniably, rottingly dead for three days, and then, Hey! Presto! He’s back! ?

    I find the whole premise quite frustrating, and it doesn’t make any sense.

    I used to think like you. I used to think that those Discovery Channel specials around Easter might have some merit.

    But, no, now I’m quite firm in the belief that Science and Judeo-Christianity are as miscible as oil and blood. Dabbling in the liquid of one requires the suspension of belief, or thinking, as it were, in the other.

    Ah, well. We can agree to disagree, anyway.

  302. #303 John Morales
    August 29, 2007

    (#285) quoted:[ Bond, james bond said "Materialism is committed to explaining everything that exists in this universe to chance acting on a material basis that has always existed.".]

    Don’t forget he immediately afterwards said “”Surprisingly, this requires explaining invisible things such as consciousness and the force of gravity”.

    Not that surprising, really…

  303. #304 Duane Tiemann
    August 29, 2007

    #286 McDowell

    The SO thing was intended to highlight a fallacy rather than to criticize grammar. You are basically saying “I believe this, therefore it’s true.”

    The biblical story is far from established historical fact. I’m not generally a fan of “go read a book” responses, but “The Bible Unearthed” and “The Jesus Puzzle” are worth it here. I think you owe it to yourself, for the sake of intellectual integrity. Or just opposition research, if nothing else.

    Transformations occur, sporadically. I suspect Allah has just as good a track record. There’s no reason to think that God does them. More like garden variety psychological phenomena. No reason to assume miracles where none are needed.

    So far, I see your reasons as:
    1. A couple “I believe, therefore”s.
    2. Historical fact (much disputed).
    3. Transformations.

    Did I miss any? Are there others?

    Isn’t it fair to say the above is weak, at best?

    I’d guess we’re left with simple faith, at base. Faith really without reasons. Pure faith. Admired by many, but not by many here.

  304. #305 MartinM
    August 29, 2007

    Materialism is committed to explaining everything that exists in this universe to chance acting on a material basis that has always existed. Surprisingly, this requires explaining invisible things such as consciousness and the force of gravity (space/time curvature) to a material basis.

    What’s the surprise? Such things are ‘invisible’ only in the sense that we can’t see them with our eyes. They’re observable, which is what matters.

    Scientists and mathematicians have had to invent “missing dark matter” to account for an “excessive” amount of gravity in the universe to keep the equations of gravity from becoming ineffective. Theism is not committed into inventing such hypothetical matter and is free to expect the “invisible” force of gravity to arise independent of the matter from a “primary higher dimension” in order to enable life to exist in this universe.

    Science isn’t committed to dark matter. If Einstein’s field equations needed refining, they’d be refined; see MOND. The resultant theory would still be physical, not theistic. Dark matter is proposed not because of any prior commitment, but simply because it’s a better solution than any proposed alteration to GR. Your proposal seems to be not that GR should be replaced by a better physical theory, but that it should be replaced with magic. Brilliant!

    Come on, let’s get specific here. Why couldn’t God produce a Universe with the properties he wanted by creating dark matter? And why couldn’t a physical theory of gravity with equations different to those of GR work?

    All you’re doing is picking a currently unsolved problem, arbitrarily assigning one possible to solution to theism and another to physics, then baldly asserting that your favoured solution is superior. This isn’t going to convince anyone, I’m afraid.

    The philosophy of Materialism has a huge problem, to put it mildly, if it can’t find 95% of the material of this universe it insists is suppose to exist.

    To be pedantic, we can find it. Dark matter interacts with normal matter through gravity, and so we can observe its presence and map its distribution. We have a pretty good idea where it is, we’re just not sure what it is.

    The fact remains that dark matter models work. A wide range of observations support the existence of dark matter. That we don’t currently know what it is doesn’t give us reason to give up and call it magic.

    If scientists and mathematicians were to treat the force of gravity as a primary constituent of the universe

    What, like a fundamental force or something?

    then the equations that explain gravity may very well be able to be reconfigured, or reinterpreted

    As I said, there’s no reason why the current equations can’t be modified. It’s been done before, after all; GR refined Newtonian gravitation. The only reason models with modified equations haven’t taken off is the fact that they’re demonstrably worse than GR + dark matter.

    the anthropic principle (which is actually a Theistic postulation)

    The weak anthropic principle is tautologous. And as I already pointed out, theism has fine-tuning problems of its own.

    As pointed out earlier, the Theistic postulations in science have already provided many correct predictions with stunning empirical validations. Predictions that materialism not only did not predict but was blatantly incorrect on.

    As pointed out earlier, none of your ‘predictions’ actually follow.

    To give further evidence of this “missing matter” problem, all matter is reducible to energy as illustrated by Einstein’s famous equation of e=mc2. Thus it may be plainly said that all material in the universe has been created out of energy.

    That doesn’t follow either. It may be true, but E=mc^2 doesn’t establish it. It could equally be the case that all energy in the Universe has been created out of matter, or that matter and energy have always coexisted. You haven’t established that energy is in any way more fundamental than mass.

    Yet energy in and of itself does not produce the force of gravity (space-time curvature). In fact, energy has exactly the opposite effect of gravity.

    No, that’s flatly wrong. Normal energy does indeed produce gravitation. You’re confusing normal energy with dark energy, which is the hypothetical cause of inflation.

    I find it interesting, incidentally, that you’ll decry dark matter as a materialistic fudge factor while acclaiming dark energy as yet more proof of theism. This really highlights the arbitrariness of your position. You could just as easily have claimed that dark matter was proof of theism, because it’s present in the right quantities. You can hold up anything as for or against theism, depending on how you choose to selectively apply your reasoning.

    The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

    But that’s clearly not true, since energy is interchangeable with matter. E=mc^2 again. So the best we can do is mass-energy conservation – but that’s true only locally in GR.

    As well light has been proven to be timeless by Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

    Light is clearly subject to time, else we wouldn’t be able to talk about the speed of light.

    Therefore energy most likely, from honest appraisal of empirical evidence, arose from some other “higher timeless” dimension

    That doesn’t follow at all. What does that even mean? You seem to be using ‘dimension’ in the sci-fi ‘parallel dimension’ sense, rather than in the way physicists actually understand it. Nonetheless, assuming energy ‘arose’ anywhere, why should that place be timeless? Clearly energy can exist in a Universe with time. Assuming arguendo that energy here came from somewhere else, why should that place not have time also?

    prior to the big bang

    That’s not necessarily a meaningful concept. North of the North pole, and all that.

    Yet the foundation of this “material” universe that is found in relativity and quantum mechanics blatantly displays actions that defy our concepts of time and space. Defying time and space is generally regarded by most people to be a miraculous occurrence.

    I have no idea what you mean by ‘defy our concepts of time and space.’ Relativity defines our concepts of time and space. What you seem to mean is ‘defy our intuition.’ Well, duh. No one said the Universe was under any compulsion to be obvious.

    Incidentally, I can’t help but notice that you’ve spent large parts of this post arguing that relativity is wrong and needs to be replaced with a theistic model, and large parts arguing that relativity is right and proves the existence of God. Which is it?

  305. #306 thalarctos
    August 29, 2007

    As for the other criticisms you state these seem to be because your quibbling over details that are inconsequential to the focus of my entries.

    If you can’t even get the little things right, why on earth would you expect us to believe your analysis of larger issues?

  306. #307 Stanton
    August 29, 2007
    As pointed out earlier, the Theistic postulations in science have already provided many correct predictions with stunning empirical validations. Predictions that materialism not only did not predict but was blatantly incorrect on.

    As pointed out earlier, none of your ‘predictions’ actually follow.

    He made predictions?
    What predictions?
    I thought he was just spamming us with nonsense he copy and pasted from the Internet.

  307. #308 MartinM
    August 29, 2007

    He made predictions?

    No. He made ‘predictions.’

  308. #309 Josh
    August 29, 2007

    Bond writes: Josh You seem sincere in your defense of your point so I’ll address your concern.

    I don’t really know what you mean by ‘sincere’ here…are you implying that I could potentially have *sinister motives* for having the audacity to do something terrible like…I dunno…try and correct what I perceive to be a mistake? What…don’t mess with God’s anointed? I’m going to scratch my head on that one a bit, but that all being said, thanks for being a big enough person to take time from your busy schedule to *address my concern.*

    And…I wasn’t defending any point…the point wasn’t mine…I was simply correcting yours.

    The photosynthetic evidence I cite is a chemical nature.

    Well, not really because it isn’t photosynthetic evidence…see below (or better yet, reread the 1996 paper).

    Thanks for pointing out the misconception. I did not mean to convey fossil evidence.

    Hey, no problem. You’ll perhaps notice the scientists on here are pretty quick to try and correct errors and misquotations when they observe them…especially when they come from the literature. It isn’t personal…it’s what we do. One of the most important facets of science is that it tries to be self-correcting.

    Yet my point is still valid since only photosynthetic life is known to produce the 2 lines of evidence I cite.

    Negative. Not if you’re referring to Mojzsis et al. (1996); not if you are still trying to use this paper to support your point. Leaving the larger discussion out of this for a moment, *this* article doesn’t support the statements you have made. This paper argues *against* those statements. Your point isn’t valid unless you’re citing other papers. Even so, you haven’t admitted that Mojzsis et al. (1996) argues against your point. You’re still trying to imply that it does. but in doing so, you’re not citing anything OUT of the article…you’re asserting. If you think Mojzsis et al. (1996) supports your statement, use the paper to show me where I’m wrong.

    As for the other criticisms you state these seem to be because your quibbling over details that are inconsequential to the focus of my entries.

    Sorry…we’re not discussing a trivial detail here. It is not an inconsequential detail when you’re trying to support a point with a paper that argues against the point you’re trying to support. You explicitly stated that Mojzsis et al. (1996) presented a huge problem for evolution and tacitly argued for ‘theism’ because it reported on the discovery of *complex photosynthetic life* at almost 4Ga…which it did NOT do (we’ll ignore for the moment, in part because David dealt with it some, the tangential fact that even if Mojzsis et al. (1996) HAD reported what you incorrectly profess they did, that it wouldn’t be a death blow to evolution). ALSO, and MORE importantly…science is ABOUT details…

    The main point to my entries is to point out that Theism, when taken as a hypothesis in which to work from such as materialism currently is used in science, then the Theistic philosophy is clearly more robust than the materialistic philosophy.

    And I was pointing out that so far, the only argument you made to support that point (that I have had time to critique in detail), collapses immediately when examined closely, unless I’m reading Mojzsis et al. (1996) incorrectly. One would think, though, that if that were the case, you would have been very quick to correct me.

    Your main gripe that I have taken offense to is that Theism makes no predictions, Yet I showed you its strength by pointing out its predictions compared to Materialism.

    Where exactly did I gripe that theism makes no predictions?

    As I have now stated several times, my posts in this thread have been focused on the issue that there is at least one serious weakness in the data you use to support your argument (and again, this is the only one I have so far had a chance to deal with).

    And the leave you with one more prediction of Theism. Theism will predict that the missing matter problem for Gravity will not be solved until a Theistic approach is used in interpreting it. Mark my words on that prediction if you want.

    Can we perhaps stay on point? Can we finish one discussion before jumping away to another?

  309. #310 Josh
    August 29, 2007

    Bond wrote: 11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils.

    Bond, I never saw where you answered my questions: what is a ‘major species?’ How do you define a ‘major species?’

    If you’re going to make such a strong declaration, then you should probably make sure we’re all on the same page with respect to all of the words in the statement. I don’t know what a ‘major species’ is…could you please clarify that for me?

    And lest you accuse me of focusing on ‘trivial details’ again, if I were to make the statement: there is no such thing as a black major car, does it not seem reasonable for someone to ask me what I meant by ‘major car’ in order to evaluate the validity of my statement?

    Once this question receives an answer, my next questions are: 1, if you don’t believe there are any transitional fossils in the fossil record, how exactly are you defining transitional fossils? 2, what evidence do you have that indicates there are no transitional fossils in the fossil record?

    I ask because…well…you see…I work with fossils…and have seen many transitional ones (I’m ignoring here for the moment that if we’re being honest, then the real challenge is for Mr. Bond to show me a fossil that isn’t actually in transition…since that is rather the entire point…). Your statement implies I’m either lying about having seen them or am horribly mistaken in my identifications. So I must conclude that you know substantially more about fossils than I do, as I cannot conceive of anyone being foolish enough to come into a blog that tangentially cares about paleontology and make such a sweeping and provocative declaration about said discipline without having anything to back it up (and as we all know, if you cannot conceive of something, obviously it cannot happen). So you might imagine that I’m rather (one might even say very) curious as to your answers.

  310. #311 Stanton
    August 29, 2007

    Furthermore, Mr Bond, if there are no such thing as “transitional fossils”, can you explain why there have been so many fossils found that bear similarities with both living organisms, and other fossil organisms? That is, could you explain if Prof. Myers hasn’t already banned you from his blog for having disregarding his warning concerning copying and pasting nonsense.
    If there is no such thing as “transitional fossils,” then how come we see so much similarities between the fossil trilobite genera Cyrtometopella, Deiphon and Sphaerocoryphe that they’re regarded as closely related?
    How does your “Theistic Philosophy” explain the trends seen in brontothere fossils, where we see small, dog-sized genera, like Eotitanops, which are extremely similiar to the paleotheres, get larger, like in the genera Paleosysops and Dolichorhinus, until we get elephantine monsters like Brontotherium?

    If you really want us to respect you, please try to actually elucidate how your “Theistic Philosophy” works, and stop lambasting your “Materialism” strawman, and stop copying and pasting nonsense that you, yourself, don’t even understand.

  311. #312 Kagehi
    August 29, 2007

    I say preponderance because only a materialIST would rule out, for example a virgin birth a priori.

    No, its generally theists that rule out things a priori, we use things like the 100% total lack of evidence the humans *ever* have virgin births, and the fact that case which could be called that in the rest of the animal kingdom generally result in females, not males. But even if we did, its not entirely clear why, other than the modern popularity of your myths, that we should treat the assertions of events in the Bible any different than old world Japanese assertions of Kami, old world Russian assertions about house spirits, Celtic claims about seeing elves, faeries and leprechauns, or the claims of one subsect of Christianity that insists that King Arthur was some version of a messiah, and that the second coming will happen when Excalibur is found, and that, oh, btw, unicorns, magic and merlin the sorcerer where all real things. Believe me, such a sub cult does exist. They where handing out books and pamphlets at the local faire (and this wasn’t a renfaire), one year.

    The basic problem us “materialists” have with your assertion that there is value in “revelation”, is that the evidence for such is no more testable than any other revelation, from any other religion, past, present or, I would say given the track record, future. When some magician on TV can make more accurate “predictions” than the best priest, and do so with **known** psychological tricks, it calls into question the validity of any revelations, or how one actually came to them. And the ones that are not that easily dismissed, are usually so fracking vague they could mean anything from the President stubbing his toe, to WWIII, all depending on when/how/who interprets them.

    Point being. We don’t reject anything without examination. Its been examined, and we have found explanations for everything from the predictions (90% of which are wrong, the rest so vague they can’t fail to be right) to personal experiences, which are all explained more reasonably by psychology, biology, physics, etc. than, “Some guy waved his staff at a tree and had a cussing fit X thousand years ago, so now Y is true.” There is nothing a priori about it.

  312. #313 Maronan
    August 29, 2007
    Ah, Lewis… funny thing, a Law of Nature that we all must follow, unless we don’t. “The Code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules…”

    And you have to be a pirate to have the rules apply! ;)

    Yet more evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster influences the world with His Noodly Appendage, protecting his Chosen People, the Pirates. :)

  313. #314 Josh
    August 30, 2007

    Kagehi: well said there in #297.

    Bond wrote: Yet silicon, though having the correct atomic structure, is severely limited in its ability to make complex macro-molecules. Silicon-based molecules are comparatively unstable and sometimes highly reactive.

    What? Bond, where the heck are you getting this stuff? Having the ‘correct’ atomic structure? Correct for what exactly? Defined by who? Although in the earth sciences we don’t tend to use the rather pointless term macromolecule, I would say that numerous species of silicate minerals are pretty darn complex (just to pull one out of my ass…I dunno…tourmaline perhaps?). Silicon-based molecules are comparatively unstable? You mean like…quartz? Yeah…very unstable. How about epidote? Phyllosilicates do weather away pretty fast, compared to things like quartz, and these are rather reactive minerals compared to most other silicates, but I must be missing your point, because I cannot recall lots of silicon-based molecules that anyone I know would call highly reactive.

  314. #315 True Bob
    August 30, 2007

    just to pull one out of my ass…I dunno…tourmaline perhaps?

    You must have an incredible digestive system.

  315. #316 Josh
    August 30, 2007

    nahhh…not that incredible…after all…Bond *did* say that silicon-based molecules were unstable and highly reactive.

    You should see how quickly my stomach acids can break down augite…

  316. #317 haha
    January 9, 2008

    Quite stupid aren’t you?

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